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Interaction between curcumin and mimetic biomembrane

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Curcumin, a major bioactive compound in turmeric, has a broad spectrum of antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, antimutagenic and anti-inflammatory properties. At the molecular level, curcumin modulates many structurally unrelated membrane proteins through several signaling pathways. Curcumin has been suggested to change the properties of cell membranes and affect the membrane-bound proteins indirectly; however, the detailed mechanism has yet to be investigated. In this paper, self-assembled bilayer lipid membranes are artificially constructed on the surface of a gold electrode to mimic biomembranes, and interaction between the supported membranes and curcumin is studied electrochemically. Results show that curcumin interacts with the membranes strongly, in a concentration-dependent manner. At low concentrations, curcumin tends to insert into the outer monolayer only, while at high concentrations, it may also begin to penetrate the inner monolayer. The results obtained in this work may enhance our understanding of the effect of curcumin, and possibly flavonoids, on cell membranes and membrane proteins.


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Correspondence to LiZhou Sun or GenXi Li.

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Chen, G., Chen, Y., Yang, N. et al. Interaction between curcumin and mimetic biomembrane. Sci. China Life Sci. 55, 527–532 (2012).

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  • curcumin
  • biomembrane
  • interaction
  • electrochemistry