Neuroprotective Effects of Curcumin in Methamphetamine-Induced Toxicity

Larisa Ryskalin, Stefano Puglisi-Allegra, Gloria Lazzeri, Francesca Biagioni, Carla L Busceti, Linda Balestrini, Andrea Fornasiero, Stefano Leone, Elena Pompili, Michela Ferrucci, Francesco Fornai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Curcumin (CUR), a natural polyphenol extracted from rhizome of the Curcuma longa L, has received great attention for its multiple potential health benefits as well as disease prevention. For instance, CUR protects against toxic agents acting on the human body, including the nervous system. In detail, CUR possesses, among others, strong effects as an autophagy activator. The present study indicates that CUR counteracts methamphetamine (METH) toxicity. Such a drug of abuse is toxic by disturbing the autophagy machinery. We profited from an unbiased, low variable cell context by using rat pheochromocytoma PC12 cell line. In such a system, a strong protection was exerted by CUR against METH toxicity. This was associated with increased autophagy flux, merging of autophagosomes with lysosomes and replenishment of autophagy vacuoles with LC3, which instead is moved out from the vacuoles by METH. This is expected to enable the autophagy machinery. In fact, while in METH-treated cells the autophagy substrates α-synuclein accumulates in the cytosol, CUR speeds up α-synuclein clearance. Under the effects of CUR LC3 penetrate in autophagy vacuoles to commit them to cell clearance and promotes the autophagy flux. The present data provide evidence that CUR counteracts the neurotoxic effects induced by METH by promoting autophagy.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Apr 24 2021


  • Animals
  • Apoptosis/drug effects
  • Curcuma/chemistry
  • Curcumin/chemistry
  • Humans
  • Methamphetamine/toxicity
  • Neuroprotective Agents/chemistry
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes/drug therapy
  • Oxidative Stress/drug effects
  • PC12 Cells
  • Plant Extracts/chemistry
  • Rats


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