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.