According to a new study from the University of California, a compound found in turmeric called curcumin helps develop blood vessels and engineered tissues.
The study results were published in the journal ‘ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces’.
The study indicated that a discovery by UC Riverside bioengineers could accelerate the development of lab-grown blood vessels and other tissues to replace and regenerate damaged tissue in human patients.
Curcumin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and is known to suppress angiogenesis in malignant tumors.
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Magnetic hydrogels embedded with curcumin-coated nanoparticles promote the secretion of vascular endothelial growth factors.
The possible use of curcumin for vascular regeneration has been suspected for some time but has not been well studied. Huinan Liu, professor of bioengineering at UCR’s Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering, led a project to investigate the regenerative properties of curcumin by coating magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles with the compound and mixing them into a biocompatible hydrogel.
UC Riverside bioengineers have now discovered that, when delivered via magnetic hydrogels into stem cell cultures, this versatile compound paradoxically also promotes the secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF, which helps vascular tissues grow.
When cultured with bone marrow-derived stem cells, the magnetic hydrogel gradually released curcumin without damaging the cells.
Compared to hydrogels embedded with naked nanoparticles, the group of hydrogels loaded with curcumin-coated nanoparticles showed a higher amount of VEGF secretion.
“Our study shows that curcumin released from magnetic hydrogels promotes cells to secrete VEGF, which is one of the most critical growth factors for increasing new blood vessel formation,” said co-author Changlu Xu, a doctoral candidate in Liu’s group. which focused on hydrogel research.
The researchers also took advantage of the nanoparticles’ magnetism to see if they could direct the nanoparticles to desired locations in the body.
They placed some of the curcumin-coated nanoparticles in a tube behind pieces of fresh pork tissue and used a magnet to successfully direct the movement of the nanoparticles.
The achievement suggested that the method could eventually be used to deliver curcumin to help heal or regenerate injured tissue.
Liu was joined in the research by her graduate students Radha Daya, Changlu Xu and Nhu-Y. Thi Nguyen at UC Riverside.