Protective effects of curcumin against rotenone and salsolinol-induced toxicity: implications for Parkinson's disease

Zakiya Qualls, Dwayne Brown, Carlana Ramlochansingh, Laura L. Hurley, Yousef Tizabi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a debilitating neurodegenerative disorder that results from the loss of or damage to dopaminergic cells in the substantia nigra. Exposure to either the pesticide rotenone or the endogenous neurotoxin salsolinol has been shown to mimic this dopaminergic cell loss. In this study, we first sought to determine whether combination of rotenone and salsolinol would result in an additive or synergistic toxicity. For this purpose we utilized SH-SY5Y cells, a human neuroblastoma cell line that is commonly used to model dopaminergic neurodegeneration. We then tested whether curcumin, a natural plant compound with known health benefits including potential neuroprotective properties, could also protect against rotenone and/or salsolinol-induced toxicity. Moreover, since apoptotic mechanism has been implicated in toxicity of these compounds the anti-apoptotic effect of curcumin was also evaluated. Our results indicate a synergistic toxicity of low concentrations of rotenone (1 and 5 μM) and salsolinol (25 and 50 μM) that was associated with apoptosis as determined by cell flow cytometry. There was also an increase in caspase-3 levels. Pretreatment with curcumin (1-10 μM) dose-dependently attenuated rotenone and/or salsolinol-induced toxicity and the associated apoptosis. These results suggest that exposure to a combination of rotenone and salsolinol may contribute to the pathology of PD, and that curcumin has a therapeutic potential in this disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-89
Number of pages9
JournalNeurotoxicity Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • cell flow cytometry
  • curcumin
  • Parkinson's disease
  • rotenone
  • salsolinol
  • SH-SY5Y cells


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