March 12, 2014
By Sayer Ji
A promising new study published in Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry titled, “Dietary Curcumin Ameliorates Aging-Related Cerebrovascular Dysfunction through the AMPK/Uncoupling Protein 2 Pathway,”[i] reveals the primary polyphenol in turmeric known as curcumin (which gives it its golden hue) may provide what the study authors describe as an “effective therapeutic strategy to reverse age-related cerebrovascular dysfunction.”
Age-related cerebrovascular dysfunction is occurring on an epidemic scale in Western countries and include, “stroke, cerebral amyloid angiopathy, cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.” Presently, very few if any conventional medical interventions are capable of providing effective solutions, and none have been found to reverse underlying pathologies in conditions whose trajectories are generally characterized as ‘incurable.’ All the more reason why the new study holds so much promise in providing an evidence-based natural solution that is safe, effective, affordable and easily accessible as a familiar food ingredient.
The study was conducted using a rat model. 24-month old male rodents were given dietary curcumin (.2%), with young control rodents 6-months of age. After one month of curcumin treatment, the researchers observed a ‘remarkable restoration’ of the impaired cerebrovascular endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation (i.e. the ability of the blood vessels to naturally relax) in the aging rats. They observed three distinct ‘molecular’ ameliorative effects:
- Curcumin promoted eNOS and AMPK phosphylation: Increasing nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability enables the inner lining of the blood vessels (endothelium) to fully dilate, reducing cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension and associated damage to the arteries. Increased 5′-AMP activated protein kinase (AMPK) activity is also associated with improved age-related endothelial function.
- Curcumin upregulated mitochondrial uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2): UCP2 plays an important role in mitochondrial homeostasis and its optimal functionaing has been associated with increased lifespan.
- Curcumin reduced Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) production: ROS reduction is associated with decreased oxidative stress and related cellular damage.