Curcumin nanoformulations for intravenous injection have been developed to offset poor absorption, biotransformation, degradation, and excessive clearance associated with parenteral delivery. This review investigates (1) whether intravenous nanoformulations improve curcumin pharmacokinetics (PK) and (2) whether improved PK yields greater therapeutic efficacy. Standard PK parameters (measured maximum concentration [Cmax], area under the curve [AUC], distribution volume [Vd], and clearance [CL]) of intravenously administered free curcumin in mice and rats were sourced from literature and compared to curcumin formulated in nanoparticles, micelles, and liposomes. The studies that also featured analysis of pharmacodynamics (PD) in murine cancer models were used to determine whether improved PK of nanoencapsulated curcumin resulted in improved PD. The distribution and clearance of free and nanoformulated curcumin were very fast, typically accounting for >80% curcumin elimination from plasma within 60 min. Case-matched analysis demonstrated that curcumin nanoencapsulation generally improved curcumin PK in terms of measured Cmax (n = 27) and AUC (n = 33), and to a lesser extent Vd and CL. However, when the data were unpaired and clustered for comparative analysis, only 5 out of the 12 analyzed nanoformulations maintained a higher relative curcumin concentration in plasma over time compared to free curcumin. Quantitative analysis of the mean plasma concentration of free curcumin versus nanoformulated curcumin did not reveal an overall marked improvement in curcumin PK. No correlation was found between PK and PD, suggesting that augmentation of the systemic presence of curcumin does not necessarily lead to greater therapeutic efficacy.
Full Access Link: Molecular Pharmaceutics