Sarcopenia, which is the decline in muscle mass and function with advancing age, can decrease quality of life and disrupt the ability to perform activities of daily living. Increased skeletal muscle oxidative stress is thought to be a prominent mechanism for the development of sarcopenia. Increased oxidative stress may be the result of several factors that include elevated levels of non-heme iron and/or a compromised antioxidant status. Curcumin, which is the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, may serve as a possible intervention for sarcopenia. Previous work utilized curcumin as a therapeutic agent for cancer patients because of its antioxidant properties, but no studies to date have explored the potential ability of curcumin to attenuate the development of sarcopenia. It has been proposed that curcumin can act as an iron chelator and also trigger the activation of nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor-2 (Nrf2); a transcription factor important to antioxidant upregulation. Through these mechanisms it is possible that curcumin can attenuate the development of oxidative stress in aging muscle. Hence, the goal of this research proposal is to characterize the role of curcumin in altering the redox status of skeletal muscle and the subsequent changes to muscle mass and function.
Aim #1 is to reveal the effects of curcumin on antioxidant measures and to document the role of Nrf2 activation in this process.
Aim #2 is to determine whether curcumin supplementation can serve as an iron chelator in aged muscle and attenuate oxidative stress.
Aim #3 seeks to investigate the role of curcumin on the decline in muscle force generation and muscle mass that occurs during the aging process. In order to investigate these aims, a well-accepted rodent model of aging will be supplemented with curcumin over a 4- month period. Providing a possible nutritional intervention for sarcopenia is of great interest, as an estimated 30% of the population over 60 years of age is affected. The results from this experiment would serve as a foundation for further research on the efficacy of curcumin supplementation in older adults.

Public Health Relevance

Sarcopenia is the progressive decline in muscle mass and function with advancing age that contributes to the loss of independence and ability to perform activities of daily living. This project will determine the efficacy of dietary curcumin supplementation to modulate antioxidant and oxidative stress pathways as a means to preserve muscle mass and function in old age. The scope of this project is relevant to public health in its aims to document the role of curcumin as a potential therapy to attenuate the progression of sarcopenia, which could be a means to improve functional abilities and quality of life of elderly individuals.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Dissertation Award (R36)
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Neuroscience of Aging Review Committee (NIA)
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Williams, John
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Syracuse University
Other Health Professions
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United States
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