Cyclic peptide containing hydrophobic and positively charged residues as a drug delivery system for curcumin

Amir Nasrolahi Shirazi, Naglaa Salem El-Sayed, Rakesh Kumar Tiwari, Kathy Tavakoli, Keykavous Parang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Due to the low water solubility and hydrophobic nature of curcumin, an efficient cellular uptake is critical for its biological activity. We have previously developed a number of homochiral L-cyclic peptides containing arginine and tryptophan as cell-penetrating peptides. Among the synthesized peptides, [WR]5 containing five arginine and five tryptophan residues was found to be the most efficient one. Here, we have compared the application of [WR]5 to improve the intracellular uptake of curcumin by using both peptide-curcumin conjugate and physical mixture (peptide + curcumin) strategies. Flow cytometry results showed that the intracellular uptake of curcumin (50 μM) was enhanced through the physical mixing with [WR]5 by 5.7 folds compared to that of curcumin alone in human leukemia (CCRFCEM) cells after 3 h. When [WR]5 was conjugated with curcumin, the intracellular uptake was enhanced by 4 fold. These data suggest that the physical mixture can work more efficiently in enhancing the cellular delivery of curcumin. Furthermore, the antiproliferative activity of curcumin was enhanced by 20% and ∼13% through the physical mixture and the conjugate, respectively, in CCRF-CEM cells after 72 h.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-417
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Drug Delivery
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Antiproliferative activity
  • Curcumin
  • Cyclic peptides
  • Drug delivery systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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