Author(s): Priyadarsini KI
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Abstract Curcumin, a polyphenolic natural product, exhibits therapeutic activity against a number of diseases, attributed mainly to its chemical structure and unique physical, chemical, and biological properties. It is a diferuloyl methane molecule [1,7-bis (4-hydroxy-3- methoxyphenyl)-1,6-heptadiene-3,5-dione)] containing two ferulic acid residues joined by a methylene bridge. It has three important functionalities: an aromatic o-methoxy phenolic group, α, β-unsaturated β-diketo moiety and a seven carbon linker. Extensive research in the last two decades has provided evidence for the role of these different functional groups in its crucial biological activities. A few highlights of chemical structural features associated with the biological activity of curcumin are: The o-methoxyphenol group and methylenic hydrogen are responsible for the antioxidant activity of curcumin, and curcumin donates an electron/ hydrogen atom to reactive oxygen species. Curcumin interacts with a number of biomolecules through non-covalent and covalent binding. The hydrogen bonding and hydrophobicity of curcumin, arising from the aromatic and tautomeric structures along with the flexibility of the linker group are responsible for the non-covalent interactions. The α, β-unsaturated β-diketone moiety covalently interacts with protein thiols, through Michael reaction. The β-diketo group forms chelates with transition metals, there by reducing the metal induced toxicity and some of the metal complexes exhibit improved antioxidant activity as enzyme mimics. New analogues with improved activity are being developed with modifications on specific functional groups of curcumin. The physico-chemical and structural features associated with some of the biological activities of curcumin and important analogues are summarized in this article.
This article was published in Curr Pharm Des
and referenced in Biochemistry & Pharmacology: Open Access