Nav: Home

Substance in red wine found to keep hearts young

June 04, 2008

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- How do the French get away with a clean bill of heart health despite a diet loaded with saturated fats? Scientists have long suspected that the answer to the so-called "French paradox" lies in red wine. Now, the results of a new study bring them closer to understanding why.

Writing this week in the online, open-access journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) ONE, researchers from industry and academia, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Florida, report that low doses of resveratrol -- a natural constituent of grapes, pomegranates, red wine and other foods -- can potentially boost the quality of life by improving heart health in old age.

The scientists included small amounts of resveratrol in the diets of middle-aged mice and found that the compound has a widespread influence on the genetic causes of aging. Specifically, the researchers found that low doses of resveratrol mimic the heart-healthy effects of what is known as caloric restriction, diets with 20 to 30 percent fewer calories than a typical diet. The new study is important because it suggests that resveratrol and caloric restriction, which has been widely studied in animals from spiders to humans, may govern the same master genetic pathways related to aging.

"Caloric restriction is highly effective in extending life in many species. If you provide species with less food, the regulated cellular stress response of this healthy habit actually makes them live longer," says study author Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, chief of the division of biology of aging at UF's Institute on Aging. "In this study, the effects of low doses of resveratrol (on genes) were comparable to caloric restriction, the hallmark for life extension."

Previous research has shown that high doses of resveratrol extend life in invertebrates and prevent early death in mice given a high-fat diet. The new study extends those findings, showing that resveratrol in low doses, beginning in middle age, can elicit many of the same benefits as a reduced-calorie diet.

"Resveratrol is active in much lower doses than previously thought," said Tomas Prolla, a UW professor of genetics and a senior author of the new report.

The group explored the agent's influence on the heart, muscle and brain by looking to see which genes were switched on and off during the aging process.

In the new study -- which compared the genetic responses of animals to either restricted diets or normal diets including small doses of resveratrol -- the similarities were remarkable, explains lead author Jamie Barger of Madison, Wis.-based LifeGen Technologies, who spearheaded the research.

In the heart, for example, there are at least 1,029 genes whose functions change with age. In animals on restricted diets, 90 percent of those heart genes experienced alterations in gene expression, while low doses of resveratrol thwarted age-related change in 92 percent. The new findings, say the study's authors, reveal how red wine's special ingredient helps keep the heart young.

In short, the authors note that a glass of wine or food or supplements containing even small doses of resveratrol are likely to help stave off cardiac aging.

That finding, may also explain the remarkable heart health of people who live in some regions of France where diets are soaked in saturated fats but the incidence of heart disease, a major cause of mortality in the United States, is low. In France, meals are traditionally complemented with a glass of red wine.

"There must be a few master biochemical pathways activated in response to caloric restriction, which in turn activate many other pathways," explained Prolla. "And resveratrol seems to activate some of these master pathways as well."

Resveratrol is currently sold over-the-counter as a nutritional supplement with supposed anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging benefits, although few scientific studies have verified these claims in humans. That may soon change: Researchers at the University of Florida hope to explore the effects of resveratrol on older people in a phase 1 clinical trial, set to begin this summer.

The study will assess the supplement's effects on memory, physical performance, inflammation and oxidative damage, according to Steve Anton, a principal investigator of the upcoming trial and an assistant professor of aging and geriatrics in the UF College of Medicine.

Mitochondria, the tiny power plants that keep a cell functioning, are especially vulnerable to the oxidative damage that accumulates during the aging process.

"In animal studies, (resveratrol) seems to promote mitochondrial health," said Todd Manini, also a principal investigator of the upcoming trial and an assistant professor of aging and geriatrics in the UF College of Medicine. "Mitochondria are everywhere: They're in the brain, in the muscle, the liver. So it could have kind of a global impact on many different organ systems."
-end-


University of Florida

Related Aging Articles:

Researchers discover new cause of cell aging
New research from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering could be key to our understanding of how the aging process works.
Deep Aging Clocks: The emergence of AI-based biomarkers of aging and longevity
The advent of deep biomarkers of aging, longevity and mortality presents a range of non-obvious applications.
Intelligence can link to health and aging
For over 100 years, scientists have sought to understand what links a person's general intelligence, health and aging.
Putting the brakes on aging
Salk Institute researchers have developed a new gene therapy to help decelerate the aging process.
New insights into the aging brain
A group of scientists at the Gladstone Institutes investigated why the choroid plexus contains so much more klotho than other brain regions.
We all want 'healthy aging,' but what is it, really? New report looks for answers
Led by Paul Mulhausen, MD, MHS, FACP, AGSF, colleagues from the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) set looking critically at what 'healthy aging' really means.
New insight into aging
Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro) of McGill University examined the effects of aging on neuroplasticity in the primary auditory cortex, the part of the brain that processes auditory information.
Aging may be as old as life itself
Aging has had a bad rap since it has long been considered a consequence of biology's concentrated effort on enhancing survival through reproductivity.
A new link between cancer and aging
Human lung cancer cells resist dying by controlling parts of the aging process, according to findings published online May 10th in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
American Federation for Aging Research experts featured in PBS special: Incredible Aging
Fourteen AFAR experts are among those featured in
More Aging News and Aging Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.