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Chemical in Curry Spice May Trigger Amyloid-β Uptake

Study of cells from Alzheimer patients indicates that curcumin treatment of macrophages increases uptake

MONDAY, Oct. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Curcumin, a chemical found in the spices curry and turmeric, may help the immune system clear amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques commonly associated with Alzheimer disease, according to the results of an in vitro study published online Oct. 9 in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Milan Fiala, M.D., of the University of California Los Angeles, and colleagues isolated macrophages from six Alzheimer disease patients and three controls, treated the cells with curcumin for 24 hours, and monitored Aβ uptake by microscopy.

Aβ uptake was already lower at baseline in cells from Alzheimer disease patients but increased in three of the six cell samples after curcumin treatment. Immune cells from patients who were younger or had higher scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination responded better, suggesting that curcumin may best help in the early stages of dementia.

"Immunomodulation of the innate immune system by curcuminoids might be a safe approach to immune clearance of amyloidosis in Alzheimer disease brain," the authors write. "Immune modulation of the innate immunity may avoid stimulation of the adaptive immune system and inflammatory responses."

The Sabinsa Corporation provided the curcumin and one of the authors participated in a speaking engagement for the company.

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