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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 4, Issue 2, Pages 181-190
Review Article

Curcumin in Cell Death Processes: A Challenge for CAM of Age-Related Pathologies

1Department of Experimental Pathology and Centro Interdipartimentale “L. Galvani”, University of Bologna, via S. Giacomo 12, 40126 Bologna, Italy
2ER-GenTech Laboratory, via Saragat 1, 44100 Ferrara, Italy
3Department of Cellular Biochemistry, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, 3 Pasteura St., 02-093 Warsaw, Poland
4Laboratory of Comparative Neuroimmunology, Department of Neurobiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles California 90095-1763, USA
5I.N.R.C.A., Department of Gerontological Sciences, via Birarelli 8, 60121 Ancona, Italy

Received 11 October 2006; Accepted 24 March 2007

Copyright © 2007 S. Salvioli et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Curcumin, the yellow pigment from the rhizoma of Curcuma longa, is a widely studied phytochemical which has a variety of biological activities: anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative. In this review we discuss the biological mechanisms and possible clinical effects of curcumin treatment on cancer therapy, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease, with particular attention to the cell death processes induced by curcumin. Since oxidative stress and inflammation are major determinants of the aging process, we also argue that curcumin can have a more general effect that slows down the rate of aging. Finally, the effects of curcumin can be described as xenohormetic, since it activates a sort of stress response in mammalian cells.