Different curcumin forms selectively bind fibrillar amyloid beta in post mortem Alzheimer's disease brains: Implications for in-vivo diagnostics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


The combined fluorescent and Aβ-binding properties of the dietary spice curcumin could yield diagnostic purpose in the search for a non-invasive Aβ-biomarker for Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, evidence on the binding properties of curcumin, its conjugates and clinically used bio-available formulations to AD neuropathological hallmarks is scarce. We therefore assessed the binding properties of different curcumin forms to different neuropathological deposits in post-mortem brain tissue of cases with AD, other neurodegenerative diseases, and controls. Post mortem brain tissue was histochemically assessed for the binding of curcumin, its isoforms, conjugates and bio-available forms and compared to routinely used staining methods. For this study we included brains of early onset AD, late onset AD, primary age-related tauopathy (PART), cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA), frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with tau or TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) inclusions, dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), Parkinson's disease (PD) and control cases without brain pathology. We found that curcumin binds to fibrillar amyloid beta (Aβ) in plaques and CAA. It does not specifically bind to inclusions of protein aggregates in FTLD-tau cases, TDP-43, or Lewy bodies. Curcumin isoforms, conjugates and bio-available forms show affinity for the same Aβ structures. Curcumin staining overlaps with immunohistochemical detection of Aβ in fibrillar plaques and CAA, and to a lesser extent cored plaques. A weak staining of neurofibrillary tangles was observed, while other structures immunopositive for phosphorylated tau remained negative. In conclusion, curcumin, its isoforms, conjugates and bio-available forms selectively bind fibrillar Aβ in plaques and CAA in post mortem AD brain tissue. Curcumin, being a food additive with fluorescent properties, is therefore an interesting candidate for in-vivo diagnostics in AD, for example in retinal fluorescent imaging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75
JournalActa Neuropathologica Communinications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2018

Cite this