Research by Wolfgang Quitschke, PhD Advances Techniques for Using Curcumin to Prevent and Treat Alzheimer’s Disease

Curcumin, the yellow pigment in turmeric, has shown promise as an agent for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease, but because it is insoluble in water and rapidly metabolized, researchers have not found a way to deliver it in effective doses to the brain. In an article published in Alzheimer’s research and therapy, Wolfgang Quitschke, PhD described the results of experiments testing the use of an injectable form of solubilized curcumin to prevent amyloid plaque formation and eliminate existing plaques in the brains of Alzheimer transgenic mice.

In one study, Dr. Quitschke administered weekly injections of cyclodextrin-solubilized curcumin over a course of 8 months to a strain of young mice genetically designed to develop plaques before 6 months of age to determine if long-term weekly exposure of curcumins would have a effect on plaque formation. He found no evidence that it did. In a second study, he administered a four-fold higher dose twice a week for one month to older mice and recorded a reduction in plaque load of up to 70% of values in control animals. These results suggested that inhibition of plaque formation and elimination of existing plaque may require administration of curcumin more frequently than once a week, perhaps using a combination of injectable and ingestible curcumin solutions.

While conducting these studies, Dr. Quitschke developed new information about the distribution and metabolism of injected curcuminoids in plasma and brain tissue. He found that significant levels of curcuminoids can be achieved in plasma and brain after intravenous or subcutaneous injection, with evidence of extensive binding to cells and tissues. However, the effects were transient as curcuminoids were metabolized and their products released into the circulatory system within two to four hours. 

The paper is titled “The effect of cyclodextrin-solubilized curcuminoids on amyloid plaques in Alzheimer transgenic mice: brain uptake and metabolism after intravenous and subcutaneous injection.” It was published March 28, 2013. The research was funded by a grant from the American Health Assistance Foundation.