|Curry Ingredient May Help Fight Alzheimer's
FRIDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) --
Curcumin, a component of curry and turmeric, seems to help the immune
system get rid of amyloid beta -- the protein that builds up to form
damaging plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.
findings build on previous research linking curry consumption to
reduced Alzheimer's risk, including one study that found that only 1
percent of elderly Indians developed the disease -- a quarter of the
rate seen in the United States.
preliminary findings from the University of California, Los Angeles,
suggest that curcumin comes to the aid of immune system cells called
macrophages to clear away amyloid beta.
know that macrophages aren't working properly in Alzheimer's
patients, since they seem to be defective in cleaning amyloid-beta
from brain slices", explained lead researcher Dr. Milan Fiala, a
researcher with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the
VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System.
have found that curcumin can help some macrophages to function
properly in a test tube," Fiala said. He said more work is
needed to see if the spice works similarly in the human brain,
is already known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant
properties. Earlier research by another UCLA team found that
curcumin-fed mice with Alzheimer's plaques experienced a decrease in
inflammation and reduced plaque formation.
new findings are in current issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's
the study, the UCLA researchers obtained blood samples from six
Alzheimer's patients and three healthy controls. They next isolated
macrophages and treated them with a curcumin solution for 24 hours,
then added amyloid beta.
from three of the Alzheimer's patients were observed to start
ingesting the plaque-forming proteins.
the past five years, Fiala's team has studied the immune function of
over 100 Alzheimer's patients. Last June, the team helped establish
the immune system's key role in Alzheimer's disease.
research has helped to identify why the brain isn't being cleared of
amyloid beta in Alzheimer's disease patients," Fiala said. "The
immune system can attack and remove amyloid-beta from the brain, but
the job is not done properly in Alzheimer's patients."
said macrophages may be as important for Alzheimer's disease as
insulin is for diabetes. "If we can improve the immune system,
we can help the body's natural ability to clear damaging plaques,"
terms of treatment implications, it's very interesting that curcumin
seems to help the brain clear away beta amyloid," noted Dr. Sam
Gandy, chair of the medical and scientific advisory council at the
"The study also shows an additional mechanism [besides curcumin's
anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties] that looks at the
actual clean-up of plaques," said Gandy, who is also director of
the Farber Institute for Neurosciences at Thomas Jefferson University
believes his team's research into the role of macrophages in
Alzheimer's disease patients may one day point to new approaches for
diagnosing -- and even treating -- the illness.
immune-cell response may also offer other researchers a novel way to
assess the effectiveness of drugs in clearing amyloid beta from the
brain. It might also help doctors individualize treatment, Fiala
appears to have few side effects, if any, he added. "We can only
say what we see in test tubes, but we don't see any toxic effects
with curcumin, even administered in high doses," Fiala said.
health benefits may extend beyond Alzheimer's disease. One recent
six-month study, carried out by researchers at Johns Hopkins
University, Baltimore, found that daily doses of the spice were
associated with a nearly 60 percent lower risk for colon polyps, a
known precursor to colon cancer.
experts say, while it may be too early to recommend a dish of curry
to help stave off cancer or Alzheimer's, it nonetheless appears
healthy -- and tasty -- to add curry powder to your spice rack.
out more about Alzheimer's treatments at the Alzheimer's