Oral Nano-Curcumin in a Model of Chronic Gulf War Illness Alleviates Brain Dysfunction with Modulation of Oxidative Stress, Mitochondrial Function, Neuroinflammation, Neurogenesis, and Gene Expression. Academic Article uri icon


  • Unrelenting cognitive and mood impairments concomitant with incessant oxidative stress and neuroinflammation are among the significant symptoms of chronic Gulf War Illness (GWI). Curcumin (CUR), an antiinflammatory compound, has shown promise to alleviate brain dysfunction in a model of GWI following intraperitoneal administrations at a high dose. However, low bioavailability after oral treatment has hampered its clinical translation. Therefore, this study investigated the efficacy of low-dose, intermittent, oral polymer nanoparticle encapsulated CUR (nCUR) for improving brain function in a rat model of chronic GWI. Intermittent administration of 10 or 20 mg/Kg nCUR for 8 weeks in the early phase of GWI improved brain function and reduced oxidative stress (OS) and neuroinflammation. We next examined the efficacy of 12-weeks of intermittent nCUR at 10 mg/Kg in GWI animals, with treatment commencing 8 months after exposure to GWI-related chemicals and stress, mimicking treatment for the persistent cognitive and mood dysfunction displayed by veterans with GWI. GWI rats receiving nCUR exhibited better cognitive and mood function associated with improved mitochondrial function and diminished neuroinflammation in the hippocampus. Improved mitochondrial function was evident from normalized expression of OS markers, antioxidants, and mitochondrial electron transport genes, and complex proteins. Lessened neuroinflammation was noticeable from reductions in astrocyte hypertrophy, NF-kB, activated microglia with NLRP3 inflammasomes, and multiple proinflammatory cytokines. Moreover, nCUR treated animals displayed enhanced neurogenesis with a normalized expression of synaptophysin puncta, and multiple genes linked to cognitive dysfunction. Thus, low-dose, intermittent, oral nCUR therapy has promise for improving brain function in veterans with GWI.

published proceedings

  • Aging Dis

altmetric score

  • 7

author list (cited authors)

  • Attaluri, S., Arora, M., Madhu, L. N., Kodali, M., Shuai, B., Melissari, L., ... Shetty, A. K.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Attaluri, Sahithi||Arora, Meenakshi||Madhu, Leelavathi N||Kodali, Maheedhar||Shuai, Bing||Melissari, Laila||Upadhya, Raghavendra||Rao, Xiaolan||Bates, Adrian||Mitra, Eeshika||Ghahfarouki, Keyhan R||Ravikumar, MNV||Shetty, Ashok K

publication date

  • April 2022