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Delivery of Curcumin and Medicinal Effects of the Copper(II)-Curcumin Complexes

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Curcumin, a yellow pigment extracted from the rhizome of Curcuma longa, commonly known as turmeric, is the most active agent of this herbal medicine. The therapeutic activities of curcumin are exemplified not only by its enhancement in wound healing but also in the treatment of inflammation, cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. There are two critical issues involving low aqueous stability and solubility that limit the bioavailability and application of curcumin as a therapeutic agent. To address these issues, delivery systems of curcumin including surfactant micelles, liposomes, polymer nanoparticles, casein micelles, plasma proteins and cyclodextrins have been developed and characterized. From a biochemical perspective, the medicinal activities of curcumin are proposed to be related to an elevated level of transition metals including copper, zinc and iron in many disease sites, especially those in cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Previous studies have demonstrated the importance of copper(II)-curcumin complexes in DNA damage owing to the strong interaction between curcumin and copper(II). Curcumin, as an anti-oxidant, possesses the abilities to scavenge radicals and maintain the levels of anti-oxidant enzymes in the presence of copper. On the other hand, copper(II)-curcumin complexes show pro-oxidant effects by generating reactive oxygen species at a high free copper level in a reducing environment. This condition results in DNA damage and inhibition of vital signaling pathways in cancer cells, leading to apoptosis. In short, curcumin has dual roles as an anti-oxidant and a prooxidant in the presence of copper and these fascinating phenomena contribute greatly to its multiple medicinal effects.
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Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Curcumin; anti-cancer; anti-oxidant; bioavailability; copper; cystic fibrosis; drug delivery; inflammation; pro-oxidant

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 April 2013

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  • Current Pharmaceutical Design publishes timely in-depth reviews covering all aspects of current research in rational drug design. Each issue is devoted to a single major therapeutic area. A Guest Editor who is an acknowledged authority in a therapeutic field has solicits for each issue comprehensive and timely reviews from leading researchers in the pharmaceutical industry and academia.

    Each thematic issue of Current Pharmaceutical Design covers all subject areas of major importance to modern drug design, including: medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, drug targets and disease mechanism.
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