Background: Curcumin is a natural phenolic compound exhibiting multiple bioactivities that have been evaluated in vitro, in vivo as well as through clinical studies in humans. Some of them include antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and central nervous system protective effects. Further, curcumin is generally recognized as a safe substance because of its low toxicity. However, its molecular structure is susceptible to changes in pH, oxidation, photodegradation, low aqueous solubility, and biotransformation compromising its bioavailability; these drawbacks are successfully addressed through nanotechnology.
Objective: The present review systematizes findings on the enhancement of curcumin’s beneficial effects when it is loaded and co-loaded into different types of nanosystems covering liposomes, polymeric and solid-lipid nanoparticles, nanostructured lipid carrier, lipid-polymeric hybrids, self- -assembled and protein-based core-shell systems in relation to its antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and central nervous system protective bioactivities.
Conclusion: Curcumin is a versatile molecule capable of exerting antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti- inflammatory, and central nervous system protective effects in an enhanced manner using the possibilities offered by the nanotechnology-based approach. Its enhanced bioactivities are associated with increments in solubility, stability, bioavailability, as well as in improved intracellular uptake and cell internalization. These advantages, in addition to curcumin’s low toxicity, indicate the potential of curcumin to be loaded and co-loaded into nanosystems capable of providing a controlled release and targeted administration.