OBJECTIVES: Curcumin (CUR), the active chemical of the Asian spice turmeric, has strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. CUR inhibits proliferation and growth of several cell types, e.g. cancer cells. While CUR inhibitory effects on microglial cells are demonstrated, little is known of its effects on neuroglia, astrocytes (AST) and oligodendrocytes (OLG). Our work focuses on CUR's effects on neuroglial proliferation and growth in vitro, utilizing C-6 rat glioma 2B-clone cells, a mixed colony of both neuroglial cells, in 6 day trials.
METHODS: The doses studied included 4, 5, 10, 15, and 20 microM - concentrations slightly smaller than those shown to stimulate protein expression in ASTs. Automated particle counter was used to determine proliferation, and marker enzyme assays were used to determine AST and OLG activity.
RESULTS: CUR inhibited neuroglial proliferation, with the degree of inhibition correlated directly with the CUR concentration. Proliferative inhibition was observed after a concentration as low as 5 microM by day 6, while inhibition of 20 microM doses occurred by day 2 of culture. Proliferative inhibition is associated with morphological changes, e.g. cell elongation and neurite prolongation, and increased activity of a marker enzyme corresponding to differentiation of OLG and with a reduced activity of the marker enzyme for AST.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggests CUR acts continuously over a period of time, with low doses being as effective as higher doses given a longer period of treatment. It has been suggested that CUR's anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant actions may be useful in the prevention-treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, e.g. Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases. Given neuroglial involvement in these diseases, and CUR's observed actions on neuroglia, the data presented here may provide further explanations of CUR's preventative-therapeutic role in these diseases.