Neuroprotection by Spice-Derived Nutraceuticals: You Are What You Eat!


Numerous lines of evidence indicate that chronic inflammation plays a major role in the development of various neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, brain tumor, and meningitis. Why these diseases are more common among people from some countries than others is not fully understood, but lifestyle factors have been linked to the development of neurodegenerative diseases. For example, the incidence of certain neurodegenerative diseases among people living in the Asian subcontinent, where people regularly consume spices, is much lower than in countries of the western world. Extensive research over the last 10 years has indicated that nutraceuticals derived from such spices as turmeric, red pepper, black pepper, licorice, clove, ginger, garlic, coriander, and cinnamon target inflammatory pathways, thereby may prevent neurodegenerative diseases. How these nutraceuticals modulate various pathways and how they exert neuroprotection are the focus of this review.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2





Amyloid beta peptide


Alzheimer’s disease


Aged garlic extract


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor


Chemokine receptor type 5




Early growth response-1


Extracellular signal-regulated kinases


Beta-amyloid fibrils




Inducible nitric oxide synthase


c-Jun N-terminal kinase




Mitogen-activated protein kinase


Monocyte chemotactic protein 1


Macrophage inflammatory protein-1 β


1-Methyl-4-phenylpyridnium ion




Nuclear factor kappa-B


Neurotrophin receptor


Parkinson’s disease


Prion protein


Protease-resistant prion protein


Protein patched homolog 1


Reactive oxygen species




Sonic Hedgehog


Toll-like receptor


TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand


Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies


Vascular endothelial growth factor


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Dr. Aggarwal is the Ransom Horne, Jr., Professor of Cancer Research. This work was partly supported by a grant from a core grant from the National Institutes of Health (CA-16672), a program project grant from National Institutes of Health (NIH CA-124787-01A2), and a grant from the Center for Targeted Therapy of MD Anderson Cancer Center. We thank Michael Worley, Department of Scientific Publications, for editorial assistance.

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Correspondence to Bharat Bhushan Aggarwal.

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Kannappan, R., Gupta, S.C., Kim, J.H. et al. Neuroprotection by Spice-Derived Nutraceuticals: You Are What You Eat!. Mol Neurobiol 44, 142–159 (2011).

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  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Nutraceuticals
  • Neuroprotection
  • Spices
  • Inflammation
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease