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The Role of Charge in the Surfactant-Assisted Stabilization of the Natural Product Curcumin

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journal contribution
posted on 20.04.2010, 00:00 by Zifan Wang, Mandy H. M. Leung, Tak W. Kee, Douglas S. English
Colloidal solutions of surfactants that form micelles or vesicles are useful for solubilizing and stabilizing hydrophobic molecules that are otherwise sparingly soluble in aqueous solutions. In this paper we investigate the use of micelles and vesicles prepared from ionic surfactants for solubilizing and stabilizing curcumin, a medicinal natural product that undergoes alkaline hydrolysis in water. We identify spectroscopic signatures to evaluate curcumin partitioning and deprotonation in surfactant mixtures containing micelles or vesicles. These spectroscopic signatures allow us to monitor the interaction of curcumin with charged surfactants over a wide range of pH values. Titration data are presented to show the pH dependence of curcumin interactions with negatively and positively charged micelles and vesicles. In solutions of cationic micelles or positively charged vesicles, strong interaction between the Cur−1 phenoxide ion and the positively charged surfactants results in a change in the acidity of the phenolic hydrogen and a lowering of the apparent lowest pKa value for curcumin. In the microenvironments formed by anionic micelles or negatively charged bilayers, our data indicates that curcumin partitions as the Cur0 species, which is stabilized by interactions with the respective surfactant aggregates, and this leads to an increase in the apparent pKa values. Our results may explain some of the discrepancies within the literature with respect to reported pKa values and the acidity of the enolic versus phenolic protons. Hydrolysis rates, quantum yields, and molar absorption coefficients are reported for curcumin in a variety of solutions.