Neuroprotective effects of Riluzole and Curcumin in human astrocytes and spinal cord white matter hypoxia

Amita Daverey, Sandeep K. Agrawal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Damage to the spinal cord (SC) can result in irreversible impairments or complete loss of motor, sensory, and autonomic functions. Riluzole, a sodium channel-blocker and glutamate inhibitor, is in preclinical use for SC injury (SCI), and curcumin is an intracellular calcium inhibitor that attenuates glutamate-induced neurotoxicity. As riluzole and curcumin have different mechanisms to protect against SCI, we aimed to investigate the neuroprotective effects of a combination of riluzole and curcumin in human astrocytes and white matter injury (WMI) model of SCI. Our data show that a combination of riluzole (1 μM) and curcumin (1 μM) was effective in inhibiting hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-induced oxidative dress in astrocytes derived from human SC, however, curcumin alone showed a significant inhibition. In addition, our results demonstrated that curcumin alone downregulates the hypoxia-induced expression of HIF-1, GFAP, and NF-H proteins in WMI, whereas riluzole alone and in combination with curcumin remained ineffective in changing the expression of these proteins. Contrarily, after inhibiting Ca2+ influx with EGTA, riluzole alone and in combination with curcumin significantly downregulated hypoxia-induced expression of GFAP and NF-H. After analysis of caspase 9 and cleaved caspase 9, we observed that curcumin and riluzole both inhibit apoptosis significantly, whereas their combination remains ineffective. Furthermore, we observed that neuroprotective effects of curcumin and riluzole are mediated through Nrf2/HO-1 signaling. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that curcumin and riluzole protect astrocytes from oxidative stress and white matter from hypoxia. However, their combination is not beneficial to reduce hypoxia-induced astrocytosis, axonal damage, and apoptosis. From our results, it is evident that curcumin is more effective in reducing WMI than riluzole.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number135351
JournalNeuroscience Letters
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • curcumin
  • neuroprotection
  • oxidative stress
  • riluzole
  • spinal cord injury
  • white matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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