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Low-dose resveratrol may slow ageing: for mice at least

By Stephen Daniells , 04-Jun-2008

Resveratrol, a polyphenol found in red wine, may mimic the effects of calorie-restriction and inhibits various aspects of the ageing process, says a new study.

The study adds to a growing body of research linking resveratrol and red wine consumption to a range of beneficial health effects, including brain and mental health, and cardiovascular health. Red wine and resveratrol have also been lauded as the answer to the "French paradox" as to why people who live in some regions of France where diets are soaked in saturated fats but washed down with a glass of rouge, but the incidence of heart disease is low. Previous in vitro and in vivo studies with resveratrol suggest that the compound may help prevent the negative effects of high-calorie diets and has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer potential. The situation is complicated however with critics of the compound noting that in order to gain such benefits from dietary sources, one would have to drink 350 to 1250 litres of red wine - a wholly inappropriate endeavour. Moreover, resveratrol supplements would not be effective since a daily dose in the region of 2500mg would be required to mimic the effects observed in other studies. "Resveratrol is active in much lower doses than previously thought and mimics a significant fraction of the profile of caloric restriction at the gene expression level," said researcher Tomas Prolla from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The amount of resveratrol in a bottle of red wine can vary between types of grapes and growing seasons, and can vary between 0.2 and 5.8 milligrams per litre. But nearly all dark red wines - merlot, cabernet, zinfandel, shiraz and pinot noir - contain resveratrol. The new study, published in the open-access journal Public Library of Science One, suggests that low doses of resveratrol in the diet of middle-aged mice may influence on the genetic levers of aging and may confer special protection on the heart. "Our findings that a low dose of resveratrol partially mimics calorie restriction at the gene expression level and leads to prevention of some age-related parameters suggests that clinical trials with resveratrol should be conducted to test the relevance of these findings to humans," wrote lead author Jamie Barger from LifeGen Technologies in Wisconsin. "Because cardiac disease is a major contributor to age-related mortality, positive findings could lead to a novel and important approach to improve the quality of human life." Study details The researchers fed middle-aged mice (14-months) a control diet, a low dose of resveratrol (4.9 mg kg-1 day-1), or a calorie restricted (CR) diet, and followed the animals until old age (30 months). The found that animals in the calorie-restriction and low-dose resveratrol groups had altered gene expression profiles in 90 and 92 per cent, respectively, in the heart. The new findings, say the study's authors, were associated with prevention of the decline in heart function associated with ageing. In short, a glass of wine or food or supplements that contain even small doses of resveratrol are likely to represent "a robust intervention in the retardation of cardiac ageing," wrote the authors. "There must be a few master biochemical pathways activated in response to caloric restriction, which in turn activate many other pathways," said Prolla. "And resveratrol seems to activate some of these master pathways as well." The work of the Wisconsin team was funded by the National Institutes of Health and DSM Nutritional Products of Basel, Switzerland. Source: Public Library of Science One 3(6): e2264. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002264 "A Low Dose of Dietary Resveratrol Partially Mimics Caloric Restriction and Retards Aging Parameters in Mice" Authors: J.L. Barger, T. Kayo, J.M. Vann, E.B. Arias, J. Wang, T.A. Hacker, Y. Wang, D. Raederstorff, J.D. Morrow, C. Leeuwenburgh, D.B. Allison, K.W. Saupe, G.D. Cartee, R. Weindruch, T.A. Prolla

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