Curcumin in depressive disorders: An overview of potential mechanisms, preclinical and clinical findings

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Abstract

Considering the high prevalence of psychiatric disorders, its social burden and the limitations of currently available treatments, alternative therapeutic approaches targeting different biological pathways have been investigated. Curcumin is a natural compound with multi-faceted pharmacological properties, interacting with several neurotransmitter systems and intracellular signaling pathways involved in mood regulation. Also, curcumin has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and neurotrophic effects, suggesting a strong potential to manage conditions associated with neurodegeneration, such as psychiatric disorders. Most literature data focused on the potential of curcumin to counteract behavioral and neurochemical alterations in preclinical models of depression. The findings still need to be further explored and clinical reports share some controversial results that might be associated with its low systemic bioavailability following oral administration. Other psychiatric disorders also have neurochemical alterations similar to those found in depression, including neurotoxicity, oxidative stress and neuroinflammation. Despite the limited number of reports, preclinical models investigated the potential role for curcumin in anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and autism spectrum disorders. Here, we will summarize the cellular targets of curcumin relevant to psychiatric disorders and its effects in preclinical and clinical studies with depression, anxiety disorders and other psychiatric related conditions.

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