Document Type

STEM

Date

2016

Submission Date

July 2017

Abstract

Curcumin is the primary curcuminoid found in the rhizome of the turmeric plant (Curcuma longa), responsible for the spice’s distinctive yellow color. Research conducted within the past two decades suggests that the compound may be an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, the most prevalent form of dementia affecting nearly 5.2 million Americans. This paper investigates the efficacy of curcumin as treatment for the pathogenesis and symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Research was conducted pertaining to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s, the in vitro applications of curcumin, the chemical properties of curcumin, and the in vivo clinical applications of curcumin. The pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s is defined by the aggregation of amyloid-beta plaques, dissociation of tau protein, propagation of reactive oxygen species, and neuroinflammation. Alzheimer’s is also characterized by symptoms of cognitive decline and memory loss. The physiochemical nature of curcumin enables it to interact with multiple biochemical pathways in the central nervous system (CNS), inhibiting the pathogenesis of the disease. In vitro applications of curcumin show much promise to this end. In vivo studies of curcumin on living subjects provide mixed results for the substance’s efficacy on symptoms and pathogenesis. Furthermore, the complex chemical properties of curcumin make drug development very difficult. Curcumin shows much promise in inhibiting the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s, according to in vitro studies. However, the lack of definitive conclusions from in vivo applications and difficulty in overcoming curcumin’s complex chemical properties for drug development show that the substance cannot yet be designated as an effective treatment for the disease.

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