Nanoencapsulation: An Advanced Nanotechnological Approach To Enhance the Biological Efficacy of Curcumin
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2018 American Chemical Society. Curcumin, (1E,6E)-1,7-Bis (4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl) hepta-1,6-diene-3,5-dione, has potential anti-cancer and other health-promoting activities. Despite its promising pharmacological properties, therapeutic applications of curcumin have been impeded by its limited bioavailability due to its low aqueous solubility at acidic and physiological pH, low stability at alkaline pH, poor absorption, and rapid metabolism. Several strategies have aimed to enhance the biological activities of this promising phytochemical. These studies have used adjuvants that inhibit curcumin-degrading enzymes, modified the dosage of curcumin, or delivered curcumin in liposomal formulations, phospholipid complexes, and nanoparticles. Another promising method for curcumin delivery is nanoencapsulation, which uses an inert material, generally natural or synthetic polymers, to coat nano-scale particles of bioactive compounds (approximately 10-100 nm). Nanoencapsulation shows significant promise for food and healthcare products due to its ability to enhance bioavailability, reduce the required dosage of toxic and expensive bioactive molecules, and target molecules to specific organs or tissues. This will be of great importance in reducing toxic side effects and increasing the efficacy of bioactive molecules. Nanoencapsulation can also enhance the flavor and nutritional properties of food. The choice of encapsulation material remains an important parameter. Proteins have been considered as a safe, natural drug delivery system; moreover, proteins are biodegradable and added nutritional value. For example, in a recent study, we used whey protein to encapsulate curcumin, thereby enhancing its inhibition of colon cancer cell proliferation. The current chapter deals with the various approaches and applications for using nanotechnology to enhance the efficacy of natural compounds, taking medical uses of curcumin as an example. We also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of these diverse approaches.