Mice with a genetic mutation in the myelin protein zero (MPZ) gene, which develop a disease resembling human type 1B Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT1B), benefited from treatment with curcumin and curcumin derivatives, researchers announced April 15, at the 2010 meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), held in Toronto.
Agnes Patzko, a research associate at Wayne State University in Detroit, reported the findings. MDA grantee Michael Shy, a professor in the Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics at Wayne State, coordinated the study team.
About the findings
The researchers tested curcumin and curcumin derivatives in mice with a CMT1B-like peripheral nerve disorder, based on laboratory findings showing that curcumin appears to help break up molecular traffic jams, such as those that occur in CMT1B-affected cells.
Curcumin is an ingredient in the spice known as turmeric that's long been used in India for cooking and as a medicine for a variety of conditions.
Mice that were treated with oral curcumin and its derivative fluorinated curcumin (CDF) showed a modest tendency to perform better than their untreated littermates on a test of their ability to stay on a rotating rod, but they did not improve on other tests of their motor function.
Mice treated with a curcumin derivative called phosphatidylcholine curcumin (PCC), on the other hand, improved significantly on the rotating rod test and also on tests of their grip strength. They performed as well on these tests as mice that didn't have any neuromuscular disease.
Meaning for people with CMT1B
It's too early to say whether or not curcumin or curcumin derivatives will have any benefit for people with CMT1B or other forms of CMT, the researchers say. Tests of these substances will continue in mice and, if some of the tested substances appear promising, the investigators will consider moving to human trials.