Research Highlight

Curcumin nanoparticles boost neuron generation

doi:10.1038/nindia.2013.167 Published online 12 December 2013

Nanoparticles laced with curcumin can boost the process of making new neurons (neurogenesis), a finding that opens doors for the treatment of several neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's Disease (AD) .

Researchers have earlier found that by targeting the endogenous neural stem cells to induce neurogenesis, it is possible to influence the brain's self-regenerative capacity.

Following up on this knowledge, researchers have now studied curcumin, a neuroprotective agent, which is known to have poor brain bioavailability. In their study, the researchers report that curcumin-encapsulated nanoparticles can induce proliferation of the neural stem cells.

They created nanoparticles with curcumin and poly (lactic- 115 co-glycolic acid) (or PLGA) to induce neurogenesis . The nanoparticles significantly increase expression of genes involved in cell proliferation (reelin, nestin, and Pax6) and neuronal differentiation (neurogenin, neuroD1, neuregulin, neuroligin, and Stat3).

The curcumin nanoparticles increased neuronal differentiation by activating the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, involved in regulation of neurogenesis. These nanoparticles reversed learning and memory impairments in an amyloid beta induced rat model of AD-like phenotypes, by inducing neurogenesis.

The researchers say these results suggest that curcumin nanoparticles induce adult neurogenesis through activation of the canonical Wnt/β-catenin pathway and may offer a therapeutic approach to treating neurodegenerative diseases such as AD, by enhancing a brain self-repair mechanism.


  1. Tiwari, S. K. et al. Curcumin-loaded nanoparticles potently induce adult neurogenesis and reverse cognitive deficits in Alzheimer's Disease model via canonical Wnt/β-Catenin pathway. ACS Nano (2013) doi: 10.1021/nn405077y