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 didnt grow as many abnormal blood vessels, so the researchers say its 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. THATS IMPORTANT BECAUSE ITS 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.
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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, APTES TEAM LOOKED AT REVERATROLS 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 WASNT THE CASE.
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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 ITS STILL TOO EARLY TO SAY WHETHER RESVERATROL WILL HAVE THE SAME EFFECTS IN HUMANS, BUT IF IT DOES, HE SAYS ITS 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 WED 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.
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The good thing about resveratrol is its 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 WONT HURT.
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Youre 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. IM JIM DRYDEN