Although studies have just begun, there was one study done that indicated that the compound known as resveratrol which is found in red wine might be able to help individuals with Alzheimer’s. One of the effects of Alzheimer’s is that a protein known as amyloid beta 40 starts to build up in the brain as the levels of this protein in the blood decrease.
Recently, a study was done by giving some Alzheimer’s patients high levels of resveratrol while others received a placebo. Those who received resveratrol did not see the expected decrease in levels of amyloid beta 40 protein in their blood which indicates that it could be used to help treat patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
The other conclusion of the study was that this compound, which is also found in dark chocolate and raspberries, is safe to give to patients in large quantities. This will allow experts to continue to test the effectiveness of resveratrol on Alzheimer’s patients. The researchers of this smaller study are now preparing to do a similar study on a larger group to confirm their results.
Resveratrol is a natural compound that plants produce when injured. Although its numerous health benefits have been claimed by various people, there aren’t many legitimate human studies that have been done to confirm these claims. Researchers chose to test resveratrol with Alzheimer’s patients because of its ability to activate sirtuin proteins which have been shown to help reduce various age-related diseases in lab animals.
Image credit: flickr/needoptic
To test the effect of resveratrol on Abeta40, the researchers conducted a randomized, placebo controlled double blind study over one year. This simply means that not only did the 119 patients involved in the trial have no idea if they were given the drug, neither did the researchers. Over the year, the patients were also given increasing doses of the drug, to test for any adverse side effects. The results suggest that resveratrol maintained the levels of Abeta40, a biomarker which has been associated with the progression of Alzheimer’s, in the blood.
“A decrease in Abeta40 is seen as dementia worsens and Alzheimer’s disease progresses; still, we can’t conclude from this study that the effects of resveratrol treatment are beneficial,” explained Turner, from Georgetown University Medical Center. “It does appear that resveratrol was able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, which is an important observation.” This is obviously important if the compound is to help prevent the build-up of Abeta40 in the brain.
An unexpected outcome of the trial was that those who were taking resveratrol lost more brain volume than those just on the placebo. “We’re not sure how to interpret this finding,” admits Turner. It could be that the compound reduces brain inflammation found with Alzheimer’s.
The results do not, however, mean we should all be drinking more wine or eating more chocolate – the doses of resveratrol involved equates to drinking around 1,000 bottles of red wine a day. Until more research is done, and the phase three trial completed, little more can be drawn from this study.
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