Expert Reviews in Molecular Medicine

Review Article

Challenges associated with curcumin therapy in Alzheimer disease

Abdenour Belkacemia1, Sihem Dogguia1a2, Lé Daoa2 and Charles Ramassamya1a3 c1

a1 INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier, Laval, Québec, Canada

a2 INRS-EMT, Québec, Canada

a3 Faculté de Médecine, Université Laval, Québec, Canada


Curcumin, the phytochemical agent in the spice turmeric, which gives Indian curry its yellow colour, is also a traditional Indian medicine. It has been used for millennia as a wound-healing agent and for treating a variety of ailments. The antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative and other properties of curcumin have only recently gained the attention of modern pharmacology. The mechanism of action of curcumin is complex and multifaceted. In part, curcumin acts by activating various cytoprotective proteins that are components of the phase II response. Over the past decade, research with curcumin has increased significantly. In vitro and in vivo studies have demonstrated that curcumin could target pathways involved in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer disease (AD), such as the β-amyloid cascade, tau phosphorylation, neuroinflammation or oxidative stress. These findings suggest that curcumin might be a promising compound for the development of AD therapy. However, its insolubility in water and poor bioavailability have limited clinical trials and its therapeutic applications. To be effective as a drug therapy, curcumin must be combined with other drugs, or new delivery strategies need to be developed.


c1 Corresponding author: Charles Ramassamy, INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier, 531, boul. des Prairies, H7V 1B7 Laval, Québec, Canada. E-mail: