Abnormal iron metabolism, mitochondrial dysfunction and the derived oxidative damage are the main pathogeneses of Friedrich's ataxia (FRDA). Curcumin provides protection from oxidative stress through Nrf2 activation and its newly found ability to chelate iron. However, its limitation is its poor water solubility and permeability. Here, the authors synthesized slow-release nanoparticles (NPs) by loading curcumin (Cur) into silk fibroin (SF) to form NPs with an average size of 150 nm (Cur@SF NPs), which exhibited satisfactory therapeutic effects on the improvement of FRDA manifestation in lymphoblasts (1 μM) derived from FRDA patients and in YG8R mice (150 mg/kg/5 days). Cur@SF NPs not only removed iron from the heart and diminished oxidative stress in general but also potentiate iron-sulfur cluster biogenesis, which compensates FXN deficiency to improve the morphology and function of mitochondria. Cur@SF NPs showed a significant improvement in neuron and myocardial function, thereby improving FRDA mouse behavior scores. These data show that Cur@SF NPs are a promising therapeutic compound for FRDA.

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