Date of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Hebe Guardiola-Diaz


Curcumin is a naturally obtained hydrophobic polyphenol that is under investigation for its potential benefits in multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment. MS development involves two main stages in its pathophysiology – the establishment and progression of inflammation that causes blood and brain barrier (BBB) damage, followed by neurodegenerative mechanisms that result in myelin sheath disruption and oligodendrocyte apoptosis. These immunopathological and neurodegenerative processes lead to disrupted remyelination in MS, which has been previously associated with the oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs). Specifically, disrupted OPC differentiation has been hypothesized to have a large role in impaired remyelination in MS. Curcumin’s immunoregulatory, anti-apoptotic, anti-oxidant, and anti-degenerative activity make it an effective candidate for targeting both the autoimmune and the neurodegenerative stages of MS. Primarily, our research focused on identifying curcumin’s role in oligodendrocyte differentiation and development in vitro through two study populations – mixed glial cultures and OPC cultures. Our findings showed a significant decrease in the total cell number and a trending decrease in differentiation in mixed glial cultures. Additionally, we found a significant increase in oligodendrocyte differentiation in response to 1 uM curcumin treatment in OPC cultures. Our overall results suggest that curcumin may have potential differentiation-enhancing activity in oligodendrocytes. Further studies are needed to investigate curcumin’s differentiation-enhancing effect in heterogenous and homogenous cultures in vitro and in vivo, as well as to identify the signaling pathways involved in curcumin’s regulation of differentiation in oligodendrocytes.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College, Hartford CT for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Biology.