Effects of curcumin on neurological diseases: focus on astrocytes


Astrocytes are the most abundant glial cells in the central nervous system, and are important players in both brain injury and neurodegenerative disease. Curcumin (1,7-bis[4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl]-1,6-heptadiene-3,5-dione), the major active component of turmeric, belongs to the curcuminoid family that was originally isolated from the plant Curcuma longa. Several studies suggest that curcumin may have a beneficial impact on the brain pathology and aging. These effects are due to curcumin’s antioxidant, free-radical scavenging, and anti-inflammatory activity. In light of this, our current review aims to discuss the role of astrocytes as essential players in neurodegenerative diseases and suggest that curcumin is capable of direct inhibition of astrocyte activity with a particular focus on its effects in Alexander disease, Alzheimer's disease, ischemia stroke, spinal cord injury, Multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.

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Fig. 1



Tumor necrosis factor


Reactive-oxygen species


Nitric oxide


Mitogen-activated protein kinases


Ionized calcium binding adaptor molecule 1


Monocyte chemoattractant protein-1


Janus kinases


Signal transducer and activator of transcription proteins


Matrix metallopeptidase 9


Interleukin 6


Interleukin 1 beta

MIP-1 α:

Macrophage inflammatory protein-1 alpha


Macrophage inflammatory protein 2


The inducible transcription factor nuclear factor-kappa B


Regulated upon activation, normal T cell


Inducible nitric oxide synthase


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor


Cannabinoid receptor type 1


Glial fibrillary acidic protein




Mitogen-activated protein kinase


Extracellular signal-regulated kinase 2


The causative gene in Wolfram syndrome 2


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Conceived the idea: SE, FF, MM, AS. Wrote the manuscript: SE, FF, GEB, MM, AS. Reviewed critically for content: GEB, AS. All authors approved the final manuscript and submission.

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Correspondence to Amirhossein Sahebkar.

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Muhammed Majeed is the founder of Sabinsa Corporation and Sami Labs Ltd. Other authors have no direct competing interests to declare.

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Eghbaliferiz, S., Farhadi, F., Barreto, G.E. et al. Effects of curcumin on neurological diseases: focus on astrocytes. Pharmacol. Rep 72, 769–782 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s43440-020-00112-3

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  • Curcuminoids
  • Neurodegenerative disease
  • Brain