The study, published in Nucleic Acids Research, suggests that the dietary polyphenol resveratrol inhibits the formation of inflammatory factors that trigger cardiovascular diseases by binding to and activating a protein known as KSRP.
Led by Andrea Pautz from Johannes Gutenberg-University Medical Center, Germany, the research team noted that resveratrol is a natural substance present in red wine and can be derived from various plant sources including grapes, berries, and Japanese knotweed.
The compound has been linked with a host of health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancers, and chronic inflammatory conditions. Indeed, the powerful polyphenol has been greatly associated with the so-called ‘French paradox’.
"We now know more precisely how resveratrol inhibits the formation of the inflammatory factors that trigger cardiovascular diseases,” said Pautz.
“This is an important finding in view of the fact that more recent research has shown that cardiovascular diseases are significantly promoted by inflammatory processes in the body,” she added.
Despite the fact that they eat more fatty foods, the French tend to less frequently develop cardiac diseases than other nations such as Germany. This French Paradox has been suggested to be due to the higher consumption of red wine in France.
Several studies have suggested resveratrol may have a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases. However, very little is known about the precise mechanisms behind such supposed benefits.
Using a combination of tests on human cell samples in the laboratory, and tests on healthy and genetically engineered mice, the team was able to identify the biological pathways that may be responsible for resveratrol’s links to a reduced incidence of heart disease – showing that the grape polyphenol inhibits the formation of inflammatory factors that are linked to the progression of heart disease.
In fact, Pautz and her team discovered that the natural substance binds to the regulator protein KSRP and activates it. KSRP reduces the stability of messenger RNA (mRNA) in connection with a number of inflammatory mediators and therefore blocks their synthesis.
The team noted that cardiovascular disorders frequently occur in association with chronic inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis.
As a result, they suggested that resveratrol has major therapeutic potential - particularly when it comes to inflammatory diseases that can cause serious damage to the cardiovascular system.