Life Extension Update
Tuesday, August 21, 2012. The 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society was the site of a presentation on August 21, 2012 of the discovery of a protective effect for resveratrol, a compound found in red grapes and wine, against the decline in mobility and balance that can occur during aging or with disorders such as Parkinson's disease. According to the American Geriatrics Society, a third of older Americans have balance or mobility challenges, resulting in a greatly increased risk of falls and disability.
Jane E. Cavanaugh, PhD of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and her associates fed 2, 10 and 22 month old mice diets enhanced with resveratrol or pinostilbene (a resveratrol analog) for 8 weeks. Motor function and balance were evaluated before and after treatment.
While older mice initially experienced more missteps when attempting to navigate a balance beam, fewer missteps occurred after 4 weeks of resveratrol treatment, resulting in performance that was similar to that of younger animals. In an attempt to determine the mechanism responsible for the improvement, Dr Cavanagh's team pretreated neural cells with resveratrol or pinostilbene prior to exposing them to dopamine (a neurotransmitter that can induce cell death in high concentrations), and observed a protective effect in treated cells. It was determined that the compounds helped prevent free radical damage generated by dopamine breakdown and activated specific protein signaling pathways that may promote survival. (One hypothesis concerning the role of dopamine in Parkinson's disease is that dopamine itself may be damaging the cells that produce it.)
"Our study suggests that a natural compound like resveratrol, which can be obtained either through dietary supplementation or diet itself, could actually decrease some of the motor deficiencies that are seen in our aging population," commented Dr Cavanaugh. "And that would, therefore, increase an aging person's quality of life and decrease their risk of hospitalization due to slips and falls."
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