October 05, 2006
Curcumin Stimulates Immune Cells To Clear Alzheimers Plaque

Curcumin is a compound found in turmeric spice which is used in curries. While only done in cell culture the use of curcumin enhanced the performance of immune system macrophage cells to take up beta amyloid plaques.

UCLA/VA researchers found that curcumin a chemical found in curry and turmeric may help the immune system clear the brain of amyloid beta, which form the plaques found in Alzheimer's disease.

Published in the Oct. 9 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, the early laboratory findings may lead to a new approach in treating Alzheimer's disease by enhancing the natural function of the immune system using curcumin, known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.

Using blood samples from six Alzheimer's disease patients and three healthy control patients, the researchers isolated cells called macrophages, which are the immune system's PacMen that travel through the brain and body, gobbling up waste products, including amyloid beta.

The team treated the macrophages with a drug derived from curcumin for 24 hours in a cell culture and then introduced amyloid beta. Treated macrophages from three out of six Alzheimer's disease patients showed improved uptake or ingestion of the waste product compared to the patients' macrophages not treated with curcumin. Macrophages from the healthy controls, which were already effectively clearing amyloid beta, showed no change when curcumin was added.

It only helped in cells from half the patients.

"Curcumin improved ingestion of amyloid beta by immune cells in 50 percent of patients with Alzheimer's disease. These initial findings demonstrate that curcumin may help boost the immune system of specific Alzheimer's disease patients," said Dr. Milan Fiala, study author and a researcher with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System. "We are hopeful that these positive results in a test tube may translate to clinical use, but more studies need to be done before curcumin can be recommended."

Older immune systems might be less able to clear the plaque junk that accumulates in the brains of those with Alzheimer's.

The patients ranged in age from 65 to 84. Fiala noted that the patients whose immune cells responded were younger and had higher scores on a Mini-Mental State Examination suggesting that curcumin may help those with less advanced dementia. Some of the patients may have already had additional curcumin in their systems due to participation in another UCLA study, which may have impacted findings.

Rejuvenation of the immune system will probably lower the incidence of Alzheimer's and might also reduce the incidence of other diseases caused at least in part by the accumulation of misfolded proteins and other junk. Check out some evidence that immune system aging leads to Alzheimer's: Immune System Deficiencies May Lead To Alzheimer's Disease

Also see my post Alzheimers Curable With Insulin Receptor Drug? for another approach that might help. Then there's the stoner approach to protection from Alzheimer's: THC Blocks Alzheimer's Plaque Formation

Share |      Randall Parker, 2006 October 05 09:15 PM  Brain Disorder Repair

TTT said at January 7, 2009 10:37 AM:

Cumin does not have curcumin. Turmeric is the one that has curcumin.

This is confusing, because 'curcumin' sounds like 'cumin'.

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