Research Highlight

Curcumin loaded nanofibers regenerate bone tissue

doi:10.1038/nindia.2016.140 Published online 24 October 2016

A polymeric nanofiber that releases curcumin over a period of time can enhance bone tissue regeneration, a new study has found1. As a prosthetic material, it could benefit people with bone defects.

Bones have a natural ability to regenerate but in some people, such as older patients or those with large bone defects, regeneration might be hampered requiring medical interventions. Some medical procedures lead to complications and researchers always look for safer alternatives.

Phytochemicals, biologically active chemical compounds found in plants, are known to accelerate bone tissue regeneration. However, till now, there were no such studies on curcumin, a phytochemical, and a popular dietary supplement with antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritis and anticancer properties.

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science loaded curcumin into poly (ε-caprolactone) or PCL nanofibres. PCL is a biocompatible polymer approved for clinical use. By utilising electrical forces, the researchers drew ultra-thin fibres of PCL, and filled them with two different concentrations of curcumin. Nanofibres, drawn by electrical forces, have a unique property: their topography is similar to that of the extracellular bone matrix.

The researchers studied the release of curcumin in an aqueous solution, and its subsequent effect on bone tissue regeneration. Analysis of gene and protein expressions confirmed that the presence of curcumin augmented bone tissue regeneration. Interestingly, out of the two curcumin concentrations studies, the one with lower concentration was found to be more effective.

“We now want to start animal experiments. We also want to develop smarter systems for better control over curcumin delivery”, says Dr Kaushik Chatterjee, the corresponding author of the paper.


1. Jain, S. et al. Curcumin eluting nanofibers augment osteogenesis toward phytochemical based bone tissue engineering. Biomed. Mater. 11 (2016) doi: 10.1088/1748-6041/11/5/055007