The health-enhancing properties of wine are common knowledge these days -- lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, promoting cardiac health, de-stressing the imbiber, and so on.
Now, a study just published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry shows that resveratrol, a compound found in grapes and red wine, lowers the levels of the amyloid-beta peptides that cause the senile plaques of Alzheimer's disease.
"Resveratrol is a natural polyphenol occurring in abundance in several plants, including grapes, berries and peanuts," explains study author Philippe Marambaud. "The polyphenol is found in high concentrations in red wines. The highest concentration of resveratrol has been reported in wines prepared from Pinot Noir grapes. Generally, white wines contain 1% to 5% of the resveratrol content present in most red wines."
Philippe Marambaud and colleagues at the Litwin-Zucker Research Center for the Study of Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders in Manhasset, Long island, NY, administered resveratrol to cells that produce human amyloid-beta and tested the compound's effectiveness by monitoring amyloid-beta levels inside and outside the cells. They found that levels of amyloid-beta in the treated cells were much lower than those in untreated cells.
Conclusion: The researchers believe the compound stimulates the degradation of amyloid-beta peptides by the proteasome, a barrel-shaped multi-protein complex that can specifically digest proteins into short polypeptides and amino acids.
That doesn't mean, however, that eating grapes will cure Alzheimer's disease.
"It is difficult to know whether the anti-amyloidogenic effect of resveratrol observed in cell culture systems can support the beneficial effect of specific diets such as eating grapes," Marambaud said. "Resveratrol in grapes may never reach the concentrations required to obtain the effect observed in our studies. Grapes and wine however contain more than 600 different components, including well-characterized antioxidant molecules. Therefore, we cannot exclude the possibility that several compounds work in synergy with small amounts of resveratrol to slow down the progression of the neurodegenerative process in humans."
Additional good news is that resveratrol may also be effective in fighting other human amyloid-related diseases such as Huntington's, Parkinson's and prion diseases. Studies by a group at the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale in Paris, France headed by Christian Néri have recently shown that resveratrol may protect neurons against amyloid-like polyglutamines, a hallmark of Huntington's disease.
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Red wine helps combat Alzheimer's
Photo by William M. Dowd
Posted by William M. Dowd at 7:34 PM