Caloric Restriction and Dietary Curcumin Improve Functional Outcomes of Aging in Mice




Sarker, Marjana R.
Forster, Michael


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Curcumin, from Curcuma Longa, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that are hypothesized to benefit impaired functional capacity related to normal aging. The following results are from an ongoing study of dietary curcumin alone and in combination with caloric restriction, testing functional and biochemical outcomes in late middle age (MAG) (15 months) and senescent (AG) (20 months) C57BL/6J male and female mice. Mice were assigned in treatment groups to receive: (i) base diet ad libitum (AL), (ii) weight stable caloric restriction (CR), (iii) curcumin in the base diet (7200 mg/kg diet) (CURAL) or (iv) curcumin plus CR (CURCR). At 8 weeks of treatment, all mice were tested for spatial memory and cognitive flexibility. Cognitive flexibility, tested using a serial reversal task, was significantly better for MAG males under CR and CURAL compared to AL but not under CURCR, suggesting an antagonistic interaction. On the other hand, MAG and AG female experimental groups did significantly better than AL. No interaction of CR and CUR was observed in AG males, with CURAL and CR yielding comparable benefits. None of the treatments had a significant effect on hippocampus- dependent spatial memory performance in MAG or AG. These results suggest that when implemented separately, both CR and CUR treatments have an ameliorative effect on impaired frontal cortical function present in late middle age and senescence. These effects were similar across different behavioral tasks and were non-interactive or antagonistic, suggesting that they could involve the same or similar mechanisms. Therefore, curcumin intake may mimic the effect of CR in the absence of diminished energy intake and weight loss.