Turmeric is a common Indian spice used in a wide variety of dishes, and is derived from the root of a turmeric plant. It has also been used for a range of health and medical purposes, largely due to a key compound in turmeric called curcumin. As an antioxidant (a polyphenol, specifically), curcumin has beneficial anti-inflammatory properties, such as helping manage oxidative stress in the body. Curcumin has also been shown to have a range of other health benefits, including helping reduce the risk of heart disease, improving brain function, and could even help prevent cancer cells from forming.
New research published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces suggests a potentially new way to use this beneficial compound: the creation and regeneration of blood vessels and tissue.
Specifically, researchers examined curcumin’s role in crucial biological regenerative functions by studying the interaction between curcumin and bone marrow stem cells. The research team compared two different groups of stem cells, both of which were cultured in a hydrogel containing magnetic nanoparticles. In one group, the nanoparticles were covered with curcumin. In the other, no curcumin was added. The idea behind using magnetic nanoparticles was to help with the slow release of curcumin to cells.
After running these experiments on the stem cells, researchers found that the presence of curcumin helped to stimulate more production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) compared to the stem cells that were not exposed to curcumin. VEGF plays an important role in the production of vascular tissue.
Researchers also explored how the magnetic particles themselves could be used to direct the administration of curcumin to very specific locations in the body.
Unfortunately, there has been little research done exploring curcumin’s role in VEGF production and the generation of new vascular tissue, so much more research is needed. However, researchers believe their work holds a good deal of promise. If their method is effective, the combination of magnetic particles and curcumin could be used in various ways to repair tissue damage caused by serious injury.