Hydrophobic hydration driven self-assembly of curcumin in water: Similarities to nucleation and growth under large metastability, and an analysis of water dynamics at heterogeneous surfaces
Journal of Chemical Physics
As the beneficial effects of curcumin have often been reported to be limited to its small concentrations, we have undertaken a study to find the aggregation properties of curcumin in water by varying the number of monomers. Our molecular dynamics simulation results show that the equilibrated structure is always an aggregated state with remarkable structural rearrangements as we vary the number of curcumin monomers from 4 to 16 monomers. We find that curcumin monomers form clusters in a very
... nite pattern where they tend to aggregate both in parallel and anti-parallel orientation of the phenyl rings, often seen in the formation of beta-sheet in proteins. A considerable enhancement in the population of parallel alignments is observed with increasing the system size from 12 to 16 curcumin monomers. Due to the prevalence of such parallel alignment for large system size, a more closely packed cluster is formed with maximum number of hydrophobic contacts. We also follow the pathway of cluster growth, in particular the transition from the initial segregated to the final aggregated state. We find the existence of a metastable structural intermediate involving a number of intermediate-sized clusters dispersed in the solution. The course of aggregation bears similarity to nucleation and growth in highly metastable state. The final aggregated form remains stable with total exclusion of water from its sequestered hydrophobic core. We also investigate water structure near the cluster surface along with their orientation. We find that water molecules form a distorted tetrahedral geometry in the 1st solvation layer of the cluster, interacting strongly with hydrophilic groups at the surface of curcumin. The dynamics of such quasi-bound water molecules near the surface of curcumin cluster is considerably slower than the bulk signifying a restricted motion as often found in protein hydration layer.