London: A bioactive compound found in turmeric promotes stem cell proliferation and differentiation in the brain, reveals new research.
The findings suggest that aromatic (ar-) turmerone could be a future drug candidate for treating neurological disorders such as stroke and Alzheimer's disease.
While several substances have been described to promote stem cell proliferation in the brain, fewer drugs additionally promote the differentiation of stem cells into neurons which constitutes a major goal in regenerative medicine.
“Our findings on aromatic turmerone take us one step closer to achieving this goal,” said lead study author Adele Rueger from the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine in Julich, Germany.
The study looked at the effects of aromatic (ar-) turmerone on endogenous neutral stem cells (NSC), the stem cells found within adult brains.
To test the effects of ar-turmerone on NSC, researchers injected adult rats with ar-turmerone.
They found that the subventricular zone (SVZ) and the hippocampus expanded in the brains of rats injected with ar-turmerone.
“The SVZ and hippocampus are the two sites in adult mammalian brains where neurogenesis, the growth of neurons, is known to occur,” Rueger explained.
Ar-turmerone is the lesser-studied of two major bioactive compounds found in turmeric.
The other compound is curcumin which is well known for its anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties.
The research appeared in the open access journal Stem Cell Research & Therapy.