Labeling and imaging of amyloid plaques in brain tissue using the natural polyphenol curcumin

Panchanan Maiti, Alexandra Plemmons, Zackary Bowers, Charles Weaver, Gary Dunbar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Deposition of amyloid beta protein (Aβ) in extra-and intracellular spaces is one of the hallmark pathologies of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Therefore, detection of the presence of Aβ in AD brain tissue is a valuable tool for developing new treatments to prevent the progression of AD. Several classical amyloid binding dyes, fluorochrome, imaging probes, and Aβ-specific antibodies have been used to detect Aβ histochemically in AD brain tissue. Use of these compounds for Aβ detection is costly and time consuming. However, because of its intense fluorescent activity, high-affinity, and specificity for Aβ, as well as structural similarities with traditional amyloid binding dyes, curcumin (Cur) is a promising candidate for labeling and imaging of Aβ plaques in postmortem brain tissue. It is a natural polyphenol from the herb Curcuma longa. In the present study, Cur was used to histochemically label Aβ plaques from both a genetic mouse model of 5x familial Alzheimer's disease (5xFAD) and from human AD tissue within a minute. The labeling capability of Cur was compared to conventional amyloid binding dyes, such as thioflavin-S (Thio-S), Congo red (CR), and Fluoro-jade C (FJC), as well as Aβ-specific antibodies (6E10 and A11). We observed that Cur is the most inexpensive and quickest way to label and image Aβ plaques when compared to these conventional dyes and is comparable to Aβ-specific antibodies. In addition, Cur binds with most Aβ species, such as oligomers and fibrils. Therefore, Cur could be used as the most cost-effective, simple, and quick fluorochrome detection agent for Aβ plaques.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere60377
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number153
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyloid beta protein
  • Amyloid binding dyes
  • Amyloid labeling
  • Curcumin
  • Issue 153
  • Neuroscience
  • Oligomers


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