Because the anti-inflammatory and anti-amyloid properties of curcumin could protect the brain from age-related neurodegeneration and memory decline, we studied the effects of curcumin on memory performance in non-demented adults and explored its potential impact on brain amyloid plaques and tau tangles using FDDNP-PET.
Forty subjects (age 51 to 84 years) were randomized to a bioavailable form of curcumin 90 mg twice daily [N=21] or placebo [N=19]) for 18 months. Primary outcome measures were verbal and visual memory. Change in attention (Trail Making Test, part A) was a secondary outcome. FDDNP-PET signals (15 curcumin, 15 placebo) were determined at baseline and 18 months in amygdala, hypothalamus, medial and lateral temporal, posterior cingulate, parietal, and frontal regions. Analyses included mixed effects general linear models with age and education as covariates, and effect size (ES; Cohen’s d) estimates.
These results suggest that daily oral curcumin supplementation leads to improved memory and attention in non-demented middle-aged and older adults. The FDDNP-PET findings raise the hypothesis that decreases in plaque and tangle accumulation in brain regions modulating mood and memory are associated with curcumin supplementation.