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Neurol Med Chir (Tokyo). 2014;54(5):387-94. Epub 2014 Jan 28.

The neuroprotective effect of treatment with curcumin in acute spinal cord injury: laboratory investigation.

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Department of Neurosurgery, School of Medicine.


The purpose of this study was investigating the effects of curcumin on the histological changes and functional recovery following spinal cord injury (SCI) in a rat model. Following either sham operation or SCI, 36 male Sprague-Dawley rats were distributed into three groups: sham group, curcumin-treated group, and vehicle-injected group. Locomotor function was assessed according to the Basso, Beattie, and Bresnahan (BBB) scale in rats who had received daily intraperitoneal injections of 200 mg/kg curcumin or an equivalent volume of vehicle for 7 days following SCI. The injured spinal cord was then examined histologically, including quantification of cavitation. BBB scores were significantly higher in rats receiving curcumin than receiving vehicle (P < 0.05). The cavity volume was significantly reduced in the curcumin group as compared to the control group (P = 0.039). Superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity was significantly elevated in the curcumin group as compared to the vehicle group but was not significantly different from the sham group (P < 0.05, P > 0.05, respectively) at one and two weeks after SCI. Malondialdehyde (MDA) levels were significantly elevated in the vehicle group as compared to the sham group (P < 0.05 at 1 and 2 weeks). MDA activity was significantly reduced in the curcumin group at 2 weeks after SCI when compared to the vehicle group (P = 0.004). The numbers of macrophage were significantly decreased in the curcumin group (P = 0.001). This study demonstrated that curcumin enhances early functional recovery after SCI by diminishing cavitation volume, anti-inflammatory reactions, and antioxidant activity.

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