Curcumin mimics the neurocognitive and anti-inflammatory effects of caloric restriction in a mouse model of midlife obesity

Marjana Rahman Sarker, Susan Franks, Nathalie Sumien, Nopporn Thangthaeng, Frank Filipetto, Michael Forster

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26 Scopus citations


Dietary curcumin was studied for its potential to decrease adiposity and reverse obesityassociated cognitive impairment in a mouse model of midlife sedentary obesity. We hypothesized that curcumin intake, by decreasing adiposity, would improve cognitive function in a manner comparable to caloric restriction (CR), a weight loss regimen. 15-month-old male C57BL/6 mice were assigned in groups to receive the following dietary regimens for 12 weeks: (i) a base diet (Ain93M) fed ad libitum (AL), (ii) the base diet restricted to 70% of ad libitum (CR) or (iii) the base diet containing curcumin fed AL (1000 mg/kg diet, CURAL). Blood markers of inflammation, interleukin 6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP), as well as an indicator of redox stress (GSH: GSSG ratio), were determined at different time points during the treatments, and visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue were measured upon completion of the experiment. After 8 weeks of dietary treatment, the mice were tested for spatial cognition (Morris water maze) and cognitive flexibility (discriminated active avoidance). The CR group showed significant weight loss and reduced adiposity, whereas CURAL mice had stable weight throughout the experiment, consumed more food than the AL group, with no reduction of adiposity. However, both CR and CURAL groups took fewer trials than AL to reach criterion during the reversal sessions of the active avoidance task, suggesting an improvement in cognitive flexibility. The AL mice had higher levels of CRP compared to CURAL and CR, and GSH as well as the GSH: GSSG ratio were increased during curcumin intake, suggesting a reducing shift in the redox state. The results suggest that, independent of their effects on adiposity; dietary curcumin and caloric restriction have positive effects on frontal cortical functions that could be linked to anti-inflammatory or antioxidant actions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0140431
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
StatePublished - 16 Oct 2015


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