Delivery of Curcumin and Medicinal Effects of the Copper(II)-Curcumin Complexes
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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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 01 April 2013
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