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J Inorg Biochem. 2004 Feb;98(2):266-75.

Through metal binding, curcumin protects against lead- and cadmium-induced lipid peroxidation in rat brain homogenates and against lead-induced tissue damage in rat brain.

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Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Biotechnology and Faculty of Pharmacy, Rhodes University, P.O. Box 94, Grahamstown, South Africa.


Curcumin, the major constituent of turmeric is a known, naturally occurring antioxidant. The present study examined the ability of this compound to protect against lead-induced damage to hippocampal cells of male Wistar rats, as well as lipid peroxidation induced by lead and cadmium in rat brain homogenate. The thiobarbituric assay (TBA) was used to measure the extent of lipid peroxidation induced by lead and cadmium in rat brain homogenate. The results show that curcumin significantly protects against lipid peroxidation induced by both these toxic metals. Coronal brain sections of rats injected intraperitoneally with lead acetate (20 mg/kg) in the presence and absence of curcumin (30 mg/kg) were compared microscopically to determine the extent of lead-induced damage to the cells in the hippocampal CA1 and CA3 regions, and to establish the capacity of curcumin to prevent such damage. Lead-induced damage to the neurons was significantly curtailed in the rats injected with curcumin. Possible chelation of lead and cadmium by curcumin as its mechanism of neuroprotection against such heavy metal insult to the brain was investigated using electrochemical, ultraviolet spectrophotometric and infrared spectroscopic analyses. The results of the study show that there is an interaction between curcumin and both cadmium and lead, with the possible formation of a complex between the metal and this ligand. These results imply that curcumin could be used therapeutically to chelate these toxic metals, thus potentially reducing their neurotoxicity and tissue damage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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