A novel curcumin derivative for the treatment of diabetic neuropathy
Neuropathy is a common complication of long-term diabetes. Proposed mechanisms of neuronal damage caused by diabetes that are downstream of hyperglycemia and/or loss of insulin signaling include ischemic hypoxia, inflammation and loss of neurotrophic support. The curcumin derivative J147 is a potent neurogenic and neuroprotective drug candidate initially developed for the treatment of neurodegenerative conditions associated with aging that impacts many pathways implicated in the pathogenesis of diabetic neuropathy. Here, we demonstrate efficacy of J147 in ameliorating multiple indices of neuropathy in the streptozotocin-induced mouse model of type 1 diabetes. Diabetes was determined by blood glucose, HbA1c, and insulin levels and efficacy of J147 by behavioral, physiologic, biochemical, proteomic, and transcriptomic assays. Biological efficacy of systemic J147 treatment was confirmed by its capacity to decrease TNFα pathway activation and several other markers of neuroinflammation in the CNS. Chronic oral treatment with J147 protected the sciatic nerve from progressive diabetes-induced slowing of large myelinated fiber conduction velocity while single doses of J147 rapidly and transiently reversed established touch-evoked allodynia. Conduction slowing and allodynia are clinically relevant markers of early diabetic neuropathy and neuropathic pain, respectively. RNA expression profiling suggests that one of the pathways by which J147 imparts its protection against diabetic induced neuropathy may be through activation of the AMP kinase pathway. The diverse biological and therapeutic effects of J147 suggest it as an alternative to the polypharmaceutical approaches required to treat the multiple pathogenic mechanisms that contribute to diabetic neuropathy.