Sci Rep. 2021 Mar 2 ;11(1):4952. Epub 2021 Mar 2. PMID: 33654147
Curcumin promotes oligodendrocyte differentiation and their protection against TNF-α through the activation of the nuclear receptor PPAR-γ.
Curcumin is a compound found in the rhizome of Curcuma longa (turmeric) with a large repertoire of pharmacological properties, including anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective activities. The current study aims to assess the effects of this natural compound on oligodendrocyte progenitor (OP) differentiation, particularly in inflammatory conditions. We found that curcumin can promote the differentiation of OPs and to counteract the maturation arrest of OPs induced by TNF-α by a mechanism involving PPAR-γ (peroxisome proliferator activated receptor), a ligand-activated transcription factor with neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory capabilities. Furthermore, curcumin induces the phosphorylation of the protein kinase ERK1/2 known to regulate the transition from OPsto immature oligodendrocytes (OLs), by a mechanism only partially dependent on PPAR-γ. Curcumin is also able to raise the levels of the co-factor PGC1-α and of the cytochrome c oxidase core protein COX1, even when OPs are exposed to TNF-α, through a PPAR-γ-mediated mechanism, in line with the known ability of PPAR-γ to promote mitochondrial integrity and functions, which are crucial for OL differentiation to occur. Altogether, this study provides evidence for a further mechanism of action of curcumin besides its well-known anti-inflammatory properties and supports the suggested therapeutic potential of this nutraceutical in demyelinating diseases.