Antioxidant Properties of Curcumin

Unnikrishnan and Rao [8, 9] studied the antioxidative properties of curcumin and its three derivatives (demethoxycurcumin, bisdemethoxycurcumin, and diacetyl cur-cumin). The authors demonstrated that these substances provide a protection of hemoglobin from oxidation except the diacetyl curcumin, which has little effect in the inhibition of nitrite-induced oxidation of hemoglobin. The effect of curcumin on lipid peroxidation has also been studied in various models by several authors. Curcumin is a good antioxidant and inhibits lipid peroxidation in rat liver micro-somes, erythrocyte membranes, and brain homogenates. The antioxidant activity of curcumin could be mediated through antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dis-mutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase. Curcumin has been shown to serve as a Michael acceptor, reacting with glutathione and thioredoxin [10]. Reaction of curcumin with these agents reduces intracellular GSH in the cells. In fact, curcumin has been found to be at least ten times more active as an antioxidant than even vitamin E [11]. In curcumin, the phenolic and the methoxy group on the phenyl ring and the 1,3-diketone system seem to be important structural features that can contribute to these effects. Another fact presented in the literature is that the antioxidant activity increases when the phenolic group with a methoxy group is at the ortho position [12].

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