Curcumin treatment improves motor behavior in α-synuclein transgenic mice

Kateri J. Spinelli, Valerie R. Osterberg, Charles K. Meshul, Amala Soumyanath, Vivek K. Unni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The curry spice curcumin plays a protective role in mouse models of neurodegenerative diseases, and can also directly modulate aggregation of α-synuclein protein in vitro, yet no studies have described the interaction of curcumin and α-synuclein in genetic synucleinopathy mouse models. Here we examined the effect of chronic and acute curcumin treatment in the Syn-GFP mouse line, which overexpresses wild-type human α-synuclein protein. We discovered that curcumin diet intervention significantly improved gait impairments and resulted in an increase in phosphorylated forms of α-synuclein at cortical presynaptic terminals. Acute curcumin treatment also caused an increase in phosphorylated α-synuclein in terminals, but had no direct effect on α-synuclein aggregation, as measured by in vivo multiphoton imaging and Proteinase-K digestion. Using LC-MS/MS, we detected ∼5 ng/mL and ∼12 ng/mL free curcumin in the plasma of chronic or acutely treated mice, with a glucuronidation rate of 94% and 97%, respectively. Despite the low plasma levels and extensive metabolism of curcumin, these results show that dietary curcumin intervention correlates with significant behavioral and molecular changes in a genetic synucleinopathy mouse model that mimics human disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0128510
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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