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Home > Trending on TAP > May 2018 > Curcumin, Memory, and Neurodegeneration: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Curcumin, Memory, and Neurodegeneration: A Randomized Controlled Trial

5/8/2018 3:22:02 PM
Curcumin, a polyphenolic compound derived from Curcuma longa (turmeric), is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies in animals suggest that curcumin may also offer neuroprotection by decreasing accumulation of beta-amyloid in senile plaques and tau proteins in neurofibrillary tangles. Senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease but may begin to develop decades before symptoms of dementia appear. There are conflicting data on the effects of curcumin on memory in non-demented adults, and no previous clinical trials have evaluated its effects on brain plaque and tangle accumulation.
 
Researchers at The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) conducted a randomized controlled trial to determine the effects of curcumin on memory performance and neurodegeneration in non-demented adults. A total of 46 adults without dementia (aged 51-84 years) were randomized to placebo or Theracurmin (providing 180 mg curcumin per day) for 18 months. Cognitive assessments were conducted at baseline, 6, 12, and 18 months. FDDNP-PET* scans measured brain deposition of amyloid plaques and tau tangles at baseline and 18 months.
 
Two memory tests were chosen as primary outcome measures: visual memory was tested by the Buschke Selective Reminding Test (SRT), and visual memory was tested by the Brief Visual Memory Test-Revised (BVMT-R). For verbal memory, the curcumin group showed significant improvement from baseline to 18 months, the placebo group did not show significant change, and the between-group effect size was determined to be 0.68 (large). For visual memory, the curcumin group showed significant improvement from baseline to 18 months, the placebo group did not show significant change, but the group-by-time interaction did not reach statistical significance. Secondary outcome measures of attention and depression scores showed significant improvements in the curcumin group as well.
 
Significant changes were observed in FDDNP-PET scans after 12 months in 2 brain regions of interest: the amygdala and the hypothalamus. FDDNP binding decreased significantly in the amygdala in the curcumin group but did not significantly change in the placebo group. FDDNP binding did not significantly change in the hypothalamus in the curcumin group but increased significantly in the placebo group. These imaging results indicate less neuropathological accumulation of beta-amyloid and tau proteins in the amygdala and hypothalamus of subjects taking curcumin.
 
The curcumin used in this study (Theracumin, Theravalues Corp, Tokyo, Japan) is dispersed with colloidal nanoparticles to increased absorption. Daily consumption of this bioavailable form of curcumin for 18 months improved memory performance in non-demented adults. Also, this is the first study to demonstrate that curcumin can decrease the accumulation of neurodegenerative proteins in key regions of the brain.
 
*2-(1-{6-[(2-[F-18]fluorethyl)(methyl)amino]-2-naphthyl}ethylidene)malononitrile positron emission tomography
 
Reference
Small GW, Siddarth P, Li Z et al. Memory and Brain Amyloid and Tau Effects of a Bioavailable Form of Curcumin in Non-Demented Adults: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled 18-Month Trial. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2018;26 (3):266-277.

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