Monday, July 23, 2007

More on Resveratrol

Scientists at Harvard and MIT have added to the "Resveratrol mystique." Their research adds weight to the Resveratrol::Sirt1 connection, and suggests that Resveratrol may be useful in preventing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.
The scientists have shown that a gene called SIRT1 and a plant compound found in red wine called resveratrol can protect against neuron degeneration in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The researchers demonstrated that activating SIRT1 and injecting resveratrol, which have both been previously associated with life-span extension in lower organisms, can also prevent cognitive problems in the mice.

The mice used in the study develop an approximation of human neurodegenerative disease over a period of weeks. As neurons in their brains die and lose connections, their spatial learning is impaired, and the mice develop difficulty associating cause and effect. Treatment with resveratrol reduced the death and degeneration of neurons in these mice and also restored their learning abilities to a level comparable to that of normal mice not suffering neurodegeneration. "Thus, resveratrol is not only neuroprotective, it also improves cognitive function after severe neurodegeneration," says Li-Huei Tsai, the professor of neuroscience at MIT who led the research with David Sinclair, a professor of pathology at Harvard. Tsai says this improvement in function suggests that resveratrol has potential for treating human neurodegenerative diseases.

....The study is the first to suggest that resveratrol could actually improve cognitive function in patients with neurodegenerative diseases. "Generally, SIRT1 has been observed to be neuroprotective," says Leonard Guarente, the professor of biology at MIT who uncovered the connection between life span and the yeast equivalent to SIRT1 about 10 years ago. What's new about Tsai and Sinclair's work, he says, is its demonstration that activating SIRT1 prevents cognitive decline in mice with neurodegenerative disease. The study shows that "resveratrol can protect against memory loss and learning decline," says Guarente, who was not involved with the research.

Guarente says the study suggests that compounds that can activate SIRT1 could be used to treat neurodegenerative disease in humans as long as they can pass through the blood-brain barrier. This membrane surrounding and protecting the brain from chemicals in the blood presents a major challenge to any researcher developing drugs that target the brain. Mice in the study received injections of resveratrol directly into blood vessels in their brains, which would not be practical in human patients.

This type of regenerative gene control via phyto-nutrients is particularly encouraging, given the most famous source of the nutrient is red wine.

Resveratrol and other phyto-nutrients have significant potential to benefit an aging population in the developed world--far beyond whatever in vivo anti-oxidant activity they may possess. The particular mechanisms of their beneficial potential is yet to be worked out.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts