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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Curcumin reduces α-synuclein induced cytotoxicity in Parkinson's disease cell model

Min S Wang12, Shanta Boddapati1, Sharareh Emadi1 and Michael R Sierks1*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Chemical Engineering, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-6006 USA

2 Department of Chemistry, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, CO 80217-3364 USA

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2010, 11:57  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-11-57

Published: 30 April 2010



Overexpression and abnormal accumulation of aggregated α-synuclein (αS) have been linked to Parkinson's disease (PD) and other synucleinopathies. αS can misfold and adopt a variety of morphologies but recent studies implicate oligomeric forms as the most cytotoxic species. Both genetic mutations and chronic exposure to neurotoxins increase αS aggregation and intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS), leading to mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative damage in PD cell models.


Here we show that curcumin can alleviate αS-induced toxicity, reduce ROS levels and protect cells against apoptosis. We also show that both intracellular overexpression of αS and extracellular addition of oligomeric αS increase ROS which induces apoptosis, suggesting that aggregated αS may induce similar toxic effects whether it is generated intra- or extracellulary.


Since curcumin is a natural food pigment that can cross the blood brain barrier and has widespread medicinal uses, it has potential therapeutic value for treating PD and other neurodegenerative disorders.