Abstract

Background: Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) is a major cause of long-term disability. However, therapeutic agents targeting SCI are sorely lacking. The aim of this study was to investigate whether curcumin has neuroprotective effects after SCI in rats. Materials and methods: Studies were performed in 39 male Sprague-Dawley rats after spinal cord hemisection. The animals were randomly divided into three groups: sham, vehicle, and curcumin. The Basso, Beattie, and Bresnahan (BBB) scale was used to evaluate functional outcome. Specimens were tested for histologic, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labeling (TUNEL), and immunohistochemical staining. Primary cultured astrocytes were used to test the inhibitory effect of curcumin on glial reactivation. Results: The BBB scores for the affected hindlimb after hemisection were significantly improved in the curcumin-treated group compared with the vehicle group (on d 3 and 7; P <0.001). Immunohistochemistry of NeuN revealed remarkable neuronal loss in the vehicle group after hemisection. In comparison, curcumin significantly protected neurons after SCI (curcumin compared with vehicle; P <0.001). Furthermore, curcumin significantly attenuated apoptosis after SCI (curcumin compared with vehicle; P <0.001). RT-PCR demonstrated that the expression of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) was significantly inhibited by curcumin. Conclusions: Curcumin inhibited apoptosis and neuron loss, quenched astrocyte activation, and significantly improved neurologic deficit 7 d after spinal cord hemisection. By down-regulating GFAP expression, curcumin seems to attenuate astrocyte reactivation, which may be beneficial for neuronal survival. This is the first report demonstrating the successful treatment of SCI by curcumin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-289
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Volume166
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011

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Keywords

  • apoptosis
  • astrocyte primary culture
  • astrocyte reactivation
  • BBB scale
  • curcumin
  • functional outcome
  • GFAP
  • hemisection
  • neuroprotection
  • spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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