Resveratrol Could Help Maintain Senior Mobility

Resveratrol could help maintain senior mobility

Resveratrol could help maintain senior mobility

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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Coffee may benefit Parkinson's patients

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In an article published online on August 1, 2012 in the journal Neurology®, Canadian researchers report a benefit for caffeine in movement control in men and women with Parkinson's disease.

Ronald Postuma, MD of the Research Institute of McGill University Health Centre and his associates divided 61 Parkinson's disease patients to receive a placebo or 100 milligrams caffeine twice per day for three weeks, followed by 200 milligrams twice daily (equal to the amount of caffeine found in two to four cups of coffee) for three additional weeks. Daytime sleepiness (a common complaint in Parkinson's disease), nighttime sleep quality, movement, depression and quality of life were evaluated before and after treatment. "We wanted to discover how caffeine could impact sleepiness as well as the motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease, such as slowness of movement, muscle stiffness, shaking and loss of balance," Dr Postuma explained.

While daytime sleepiness improved only slightly, participants who received caffeine experienced a significant improvement in movement. "The people who received caffeine supplements experienced an improvement in their motor symptoms (a five-point improvement on the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale, a rating scale used to measure the severity of the disease) over those who received the placebo," Dr Postuma stated. "This was due to improvement in speed of movement and a reduction in stiffness."

"This is one of the first studies to show the benefits of caffeine on motor impairment in people who have Parkinson's disease," he announced. "Research has already shown that people who drink coffee have a lower risk of developing Parkinson's disease, but until now no study had looked at the immediate clinical implications of this finding."

"Caffeine should be explored as a treatment option for Parkinson's disease," Dr Postuma concluded. "It may be useful as a supplement to medication and could therefore help reduce patient dosages."

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