Curcumin helps clear Alzheimer's plaques

Oct. 4, 2006 at 1:42 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Curcumin -- in curry and turmeric -- may help the immune system clear the brain of amyloid beta, the plaques found in Alzheimer's disease, says a U.S. study.

Using blood samples from six Alzheimer's patients and three healthy control patients, the researchers isolated cells called macrophages, which are the immune system's PacMen that travel through the brain and body, gobbling up waste products, including amyloid beta, according to study author Dr. Milan Fiala of the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California at Los Angeles and the VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System.

The team treated the macrophages with a drug derived from curcumin for 24 hours in a cell culture and then introduced amyloid beta. Treated macrophages from three out of six Alzheimer's disease patients showed improved uptake or ingestion of the waste product compared to the patients' macrophages not treated with curcumin, according to the study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease Macrophages.

Macrophages from the healthy controls, which were already effectively clearing amyloid beta, showed no change when curcumin was added.

"Curcumin improved ingestion of amyloid beta by immune cells in 50 percent of patients with Alzheimer's disease," said Fiala.

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