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Resveratrol and vision

Resveratrol, an ingredient in red wine, has been linked to many health benefits. Red wine drinkers have lower rates of heart disease, and resveratrol also may slow aging and help combat obesity. Now visual scientists at Washington University School of Medicine have identified another possible benefit. They gave resveratrol to mice that develop abnormal blood vessels and a condition similar to age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in Americans over the age of 50. When the mice got the chemical from red wine, they didn’t grow as many abnormal blood vessels, so the researchers say it’s conceivable that resveratrol also may help preserve vision.

RESVERATROL, WHICH IS BEST KNOWN AS THE COMPOUND IN RED WINE, LOOKS AS IF IT MAY HELP PREVENT THE FORMATION OF ABNOMRAL BLOOD VESSELS IN SOME FORMS OF EYE DISEASE. THAT’S IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT’S THOSE BLOOD VESSELS THAT OFTEN HAVE THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON EYESIGHT. NOW VISION RESEARCHERS AT WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE IN ST. LOUIS HAVE FOUND THAT THE RED-WINE COMPOUND MAY PREVENT OR REVERSE SOME OF THAT DAMAGE. JIM DRYDEN HAS THE STORY…

FOR THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS, SCIENTISTS HAVE KNOWN THAT PEOPLE WHO DRINK RED WINE TEND TO HAVE LESS HEART DISEASE AND FEWER AGING-RELATED PROBLEMS THAN THE REST OF US. SO SCIENTISTS HAVE BEEN TESTING RESVERATROL PILLS IN PEOPLE AND IN ANIMALS TO SEE HOW IT WORKS IN A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT CONDITIONS. WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY VISION SCIENTIST RAJ APTE STUDIES ABNORMAL BLOOD VESSEL FORMATION IN EYE DISEASES LIKE AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION AND DIABETIC RETINOPATHY.

(act) :24 o/c eye disease

The reason for looking at resveratrol initially, sort of, was

serendipitous because there have been a number of reports that

have linked resveratrol to aging, or as an anti-aging compound.

Given our interest in age-related eye disease, we wanted to

explore and see if there was a potential link between the effects

of resveratrol in decelerating aging and its relevance to age-

related eye disease.

IN A MOUSE MODEL OF ABNORMAL BLOOD VESSEL FORMATION, RESVERATROL DOES, INDEED, INTERFERE WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF HARMFUL BLOOD VESSELS IN THE EYE. AFTER MAKING THAT OBSERVATION, APTE’S TEAM LOOKED AT REVERATROL’S EFFECTS IN CELL LINES MADE UP OF THOSE CELLS THAT FORM BLOOD VESSELS, AND THEY DISCOVERED THAT RESVERATROL WAS HAVING ITS EFFECTS THROUGH A DIFFERENT PATHWAY THAN THEY WOULD HAVE ANTICIPATED. MANY OTHER SCIENTISTS WORKING WITH RESVERATROL HAVE NOTICED THAT IT TENDS TO AFFECT PARTICULAR PROTEINS CALLED SIRTUIN PROTEINS. BUT IN BLOOD VESSEL CELLS, THAT WASN’T THE CASE.

(act) :22 o/c to form

So we thought that once we found there was an effect, it

made sense to look at that pathway, and it became, actually,

more interesting when we found that it seemed not to work

through this well-described pathway, but through another

pathway inhibiting their growth, their migration and their

proliferation, all of which are properties that are important

for these blood vessels to form.

APTE SAYS IT’S STILL TOO EARLY TO SAY WHETHER RESVERATROL WILL HAVE THE SAME EFFECTS IN HUMANS, BUT IF IT DOES, HE SAYS IT’S HIGHLY UNLIKELY THAT PEOPLE COULD DRINK ENOUGH WINE OR EAT ENOUGH GRAPES TO PREVENT THE FORMATION OF ABNORMAL BLOOD VESSELS IN EYE DISEASE. INSTEAD, HE SAYS WE’D PROBABLY NEED TO TAKE PILLS WITH HIGHER LEVELS OF RESVERATROL THAN WE COULD EAT OR DRINK NORMALLY. THE GOOD NEWS, HE SAYS, IS THAT OUR SYSTEMS TEND TO ABSORB AND USE RESVERATROL VERY SUCCESSFULLY.

(act) :16 o/c the eye

The good thing about resveratrol is it’s been shown to have

good oral bioavailability. This is something that could be

potentially given non-invasively and systemically, as opposed

to a number of therapies that we do currently for the eye,

which are given as injections directly into the eye.

APTE SAYS BECAUSE RESVERATROL IS INFLUENCING BLOOD VESSEL FORMATION, IT MAY ALSO PLAY A ROLE IN THERAPY FOR CANCER AND OTHER DISEASES OUTSIDE OF THE EYE WHERE ABNORMAL BLOOD VESSELS PLAY A ROLE. AND HE SAYS WHILE WAITING TO LEARN WHETHER RESVERATROL REALLY WILL WORK IN HUMANS, AT THE VERY LEAST, HE SAYS A GLASS OR TWO OF RED WINE WITH DINNER PROBABLY WON’T HURT.

(act) :12 o/c macular degeneration

You’re at least not going to hurt yourself by, you know, a glass

of red wine. So this is good news because if anything, you know,

it might potentially help people with high-risk macular degeneration.

APTE REPORTED HIS FINDINGS IN THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PATHOLOGY. I’M JIM DRYDEN…

RUNS 2:57