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Diet & Health : Heart & Blood Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Red wine compound may help middle-aged men’s heart
By Ben Wasserman
Jul 7, 2008 - 8:49:02 AM

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Seedless Grapes. Credit: Commons-wikipedia
MONDAY July 7, 2008 ( -- A new study suggests that middle-aged men and women could slow aging-related deterioration and functional decline by using resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, grapes and nuts.

Resveratrol has been found in previous studies to have effects in animals similar to what's induced by calorie restriction, which is known to extend lifespan in many animal models.

The current study sponsored and conducted by the National institute on Aging confirmed resveratrol has some effects of calorie restriction, but indicated that this compound does not increase lifespan in study mice when fed a standard diet.

The study led by Rafael de Cabo, Ph.D., of the Laboratory of Experimental Gerontology at the NIA and colleagues compared mice fed a standard diet, a high-calorie diet or an every-other-day feeding regimen with or without high- or low-dose resveratrol for the aging related health conditions.

Calorie restriction including every-other-day feeding regimen has been showed to improve markers of health, according to the study.

"Research is attempting to understand the process of aging and to determine how interventions can influence this process. Dietary restriction has well-documented health benefits in mammals, and the study of possible mimetics of it, such as resveratrol, are of great interest," said NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D.

"Resveratrol has produced significant effects in animal models, now including mice, where it mimics some, but not all, consequences of caloric restriction. Its effects in humans remain to be studied."

The researchers found resveratrol prevented aging-related and obesity-related cardiovascular functional decline in the mice as determined by several parameters.

Resveratrol also significantly reduced total cholesterol in 22-month-old non-obese mice after 10 months of treatment.

Additionally the aortas of 18-month-old obese and non-obese mice receiving resveratrol functioned significantly compared to untreated mice. Plus, the compound improved inflammation in the heart.

In addition to cardiovascular function, the researchers found resveratrol to have a variety of positive impact on other aging-related problems in mice, cited from a news release from NIH/National Institute on Aging

    * Treated mice tended to have better bone health, as measured by thickness, volume, mineral content and density, and bending stiffness compared to the non-treated control group.

    * At 30 months of age, resveratrol-treated mice were found to have reduced cataract formation, a condition found to increase with age in control-group mice.

    * Resveratrol enhanced balance and motor coordination in aged animals. Scientists found significant improvement in performance at 21 and 24 months versus 15 months in the resveratrol-treated mice but not in the untreated mice.

    * Resveratrol partially mimicked the effects of dietary restriction on the gene expression profiles of liver, skeletal muscle and adipose (fatty) tissue in mice.

In spite of all the benefits, resveratrol did not significantly increase lifespan in animals fed standard chow, suggesting that the intervention did not affect all aspects of the basic aging process.

The study showed mice on the high-calorie diet without resveratrol lived the shortest length of time and those on an every-other-day regimen lived the longest, regardless of resveratrol treatment.

In mice fed the high-calorie diet, however, mean and maximum lifespan increased for those treated with resveratrol when compared with the mice on the high calorie diet without resveratrol.

Regardless of the weight status, mice fed on the high calorie diet, but treated with resveratrol lived longer or healthier than mice on the same diet but without resveratrol.

The researchers explained that improved cardiovascular health and reduced fatty changes in the liver may have contributed to the increased lifespan of resveratrol-treated mice.

The results were based on an animal study; more research is needed to understand how resveratrol affect human’s cardiovascular health and lifespan.

"We are learning a great deal about how resveratrol affects the health and survival of mammals," said David A. Sinclair, Ph.D., of the Glenn Laboratories for Molecular Biology of Aging at Harvard Medical School. "Continued study of calorie restriction mimetics such as resveratrol may eventually point the way to new medicines to treat diseases of aging."

© 2004-2008 by unless otherwise specified

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