Resveratrol is the much-talked-about plant chemical found in red grapes and some other fruits that goes into making red wine beneficial, if taken in moderate amounts.
Researchers at National Institutes of Health have now found out exactly how this resveratrol works for us.
Resveratrol is a natural phenol that some plants produce as a defence to attack from bacteria or fungi. In recent years, several experiments conducted on rats have shown resveratrol to have anticancer, anti-inflammatory, pro-cardiovascular properties. However, the extent of such benefits is much less in trials with humans.
The scientists found that resveratrol inhibits the production of certain types of proteins known as phosphodiesterases (PDEs). PDEs are known to regulate cell energy.
PDE inhibitors have the potential to enhance or amplify the effect of physiological processes in the body and so are considered to be therapeutically beneficial in managing conditions such as coronary heart disease, dementia, depression, and schizophrenia.
So how does this affect the consumer? The understanding of the mechanism of the action of resveratrol settles the debate on resveratrol’s biochemistry and makes way for drugs based on resveratrol.
As per the lead author Jay H. Chung, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Laboratory of Obesity and Aging Research at the NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, “Resveratrol has potential as a therapy for diverse diseases such as type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and heart disease. However, before researchers can transform resveratrol into a safe and effective medicine, they need to know exactly what it targets in cells.” (1)
Several previous studies suggested that resveratrol's primary target is sirtuin 1. Chung and colleagues suspected otherwise when they found that resveratrol activity required another protein called AMPK. This would not be the case if resveratrol directly interacted with sirtuin 1.