Resveratrol may boost oral health: Cell study

By Stephen Daniells

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Resveratrol may boost oral health: Cell study

Related tags: Resveratrol

The benefits of resveratrol may also extend to oral health, suggests a new study which found that resveratrol may exert an antimicrobial effect and reduce levels of periodontitis–causing bacteria.

Resveratrol was found to suppress the growth of certain bacteria known to promote periodontal disease, with no living bacteria found after 24 hours of study, report researchers from the University of Hong Kong.

“It was demonstrated that resveratrol, a naturally occurring phytoalexin, possesses a significant antimicrobial effect against the periodontal pathogens ​Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans ATCC 700685 and ​Porphyromonas gingivalis ATCC 33277,” ​wrote the researchers in Phytotherapy Research​.

“We believe that its antibacterial and osteogenic properties may provide a valuable adjunctive to conventional periodontal disease regimens.”

Periodontitis is a serious gum infection that destroys the soft tissue and bone supporting the teeth. It is reportedly the second most common disease worldwide, with 30–50 per cent of the US population suffering from it.

Resveratrol’s rosy potential

Resveratrol is often touted as the bioactive compound in grapes and red wine, and has particularly been associated with the so-called 'French Paradox'. The phrase, coined in 1992 by Dr Serge Renaud from Bordeaux University, describes the low incidence of heart disease and obesity among the French, despite their relatively high-fat diet and levels of wine consumption.

Interest in the compound exploded in 2003 when research from David Sinclair and his team from Harvard reported that resveratrol was able to increase the lifespan of yeast cells. The research, published in Nature, was greeted with international media fanfare and ignited flames of hope for an anti-ageing pill.

According to Sinclair’s findings, resveratrol could activate a gene called sirtuin1 (Sirt1 – the yeast equivalent was Sir2), which is also activated during calorie restriction in various species, including monkeys.

Since then studies in nematode worms, fruit flies, fish, and mice have linked resveratrol to longer lives. Other studies with only resveratrol have reported anti-cancer effects, anti-inflammatory effects, cardiovascular benefits, anti-diabetes potential, energy endurance enhancement, and protection against Alzheimer’s.

Interest in the molecule is increasing. At the recent SupplySide East show in New Jersey Datamonitor’s Tom Verhile told attendees: “New food and beverage product launches containing resveratrol tripled in 2009-2010. This is an ingredient to watch…”

Oral health

If additional studies support the Hong Kong findings then oral health may also be added to the list of potential benefits of resveratrol.

For their study, the researchers examined the efficacy of resveratrol on the bacteria A. actinomycetemcomitans​ and P. gingivalis​, as well as against other oral microorganisms.

Using the solvent dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO), the bacteria were incubated for 1, 3, 6 and 24 hours at 37 °C. DSMO is listed as a class 3 solvent by the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA)​, and is considered to have low toxicity.

Results showed that levels of both A. actinomycetemcomitans​ and P. gingivalis​ were significantly decreased after 1 hour and that no viable bacterial cells were observed after 24 hours.

Resveratrol had no effect on the other non-periodontitis promoting oral microorganisms, said the researchers.


Commenting on the potential mechanism, the researchers note that periodontal disease involves an inflammatory process, and that a recent study has suggested that resveratrol may block this process by preventing the binding of a pro-inflammatory compound called nuclear factor‐kappaB.

“In view of the increasing resistance of gramnegative anaerobic bacteria to conventional antibiotics, it seems apparent that novel therapeutic strategies are required to combat periodontal pathogens.

“The development of resveratrol as an antimicrobial agent may provide an alternative treatment approach.

“Further investigation into resveratrol’s mode of activity is necessary to optimize clinical applicability and effectiveness,”​ they concluded.

Source: Phytotherapy Research
​November 2011, Volume 25, Issue 11, Pages 1727-1731, doi: 10.1002/ptr.3501
“Resveratrol Inhibits Periodontal Pathogens ​In Vitro
Authors: D. J. O'Connor, R. W. K. Wong and A. B. M. Rabie

Related topics: Research, Oral/gum health

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