Researchers have found that a compound found in tumeric promotes stem cell proliferation and differentiation in the brain, potentially providing a new treatment mechanism for neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
The bioactive compound in Turmeric is called aromatic turmerone and previous studies have shown that it blocks the activation of microglial cells linked to neuro-inflammation and activates the brain’s ability to heal itself.
The researchers focused on endogenous neural stem cells (NSC), found in adult brains. NSC turn into neurons allowing the brain to repair brain functions in neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Rat models were used to test the impact of the compound and it was found that the subventricular zone (SVZ) was wider and the hippocampus expanded in the brains of the rats injected with the compound, compared with those that did not receive the compound. The areas impacted are the two sites in the mammalian brains were the growth of neurons occurs.
To analyze the effect of the compound on regenerative medicine, the researchers cultured and grew rat fetal NSCs in six different concentrations of the compound for 72 hours. It was determined that in certain concentrations the compound increased NSC proliferation by up to 80% without impacting cell death whatsoever. In addition, the cell differentiation process sped up in the cells treated with the compound, compared with the untreated control cells.
“While several substances have been described to promote stem cell proliferation in the brain, fewer drugs additionally promote the differentiation of stem cells into neurons, which constitutes a major goal in regenerative medicine. Our findings on aromatic turmerone take us one step closer to achieving this goal,” said lead researcher Adele Rueger.
Aromatic-turmerone induces neural stem cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo, Maria Adele Rueger, et al., Stem Cell Research & Therapy, doi:10.1186/scrt500, published 26 September 2014, abstract.