Stimulating the proliferation, migration and lamellipodia of Schwann cells using low-dose curcumin

J. Tello Velasquez, L. Nazareth, R. J. Quinn, J. A K Ekberg, J. A. St John*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Transplantation of peripheral glia is being trialled for neural repair therapies, and identification of compounds that enhance the activity of glia is therefore of therapeutic interest. We have previously shown that curcumin potently stimulates the activity of olfactory glia. We have now examined the effect of curcumin on Schwann cell (SC) activities including proliferation, migration and the expression of protein markers. SCs were treated with control media and with different concentrations of curcumin (0.02-20 μM). Cell proliferation was determined by MTS assay and migration changes were determined by single live cell migration tracking. We found that small doses of curcumin (40 nM) dramatically increased the proliferation and migration in SCs within just one day. When compared with olfactory glia, curcumin stimulated SC proliferation more rapidly and at lower concentrations. Curcumin significantly increased the migration of SCs, and also increased the dynamic activity of lamellipodial waves which are essential for SC migration. Expression of the activated form of the MAP kinase p38 (p-p38) was significantly decreased in curcumin-treated SCs. These results show that curcumin's effects on SCs differ remarkably to its effects on olfactory glia, suggesting that subtypes of closely related glia can be differentially stimulated by curcumin. Overall these results demonstrate that the therapeutically beneficial activities of glia can be differentially enhanced by curcumin which could be used to improve outcomes of neural repair therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-150
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


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