Resveratrol, a polyphenol compound may help prevent age-related decline in memory according to new research published by a faculty member in the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine.
Ashok K. Shetty, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine and Director of Neurosciences at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine, has been studying the potential benefit of resveratrol, an antioxidant that is found in the skin of red grapes, as well as in red wine, peanuts and some berries. Resveratrol has been widely touted for its potential to prevent heart disease, but Shetty and a team that includes other researchers from the health science center believe it also has positive effects on the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is critical to functions such as memory, learning and mood.
Because both humans and animals show a decline in cognitive capacity after middle age, the findings may have implications for treating memory loss in the elderly. Resveratrol may even be able to help people afflicted with severe neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
In a study published online Jan. 28 in Scientific Reports, Shetty and his research team reported that treatment with resveratrol had apparent benefits in terms of learning, memory, and mood function in aged rats. “The results of the study were striking,” Shetty said. “They indicated that for the control rats who did not receive resveratrol, spatial learning ability was largely maintained but ability to make new spatial memories significantly declined between 22 and 25 months. By contrast, both spatial learning and memory improved in the resveratrol-treated rats.”
Shetty said neurogenesis (the growth and development of neurons) approximately doubled in the rats given resveratrol compared to the control rats. The resveratrol-treated rats also had significantly improved microvasculature, indicating improved blood flow, and had a lower level of chronic inflammation in the hippocampus.
“The study provides novel evidence that resveratrol treatment in late middle age can help improve memory and mood function in old age,” Shetty said.’
This suggests supplementation with resveratrol may prove uniquely beneficial as a natural antidepressant and memory enhancer among those in late middle age and among the elderly, who oftentimes show exquisite sensitivity to side-effects associated with conventional pharmaceutical medications including antidepressants.
Given some 25% of Americans (~75 Million of us) carry a single copy of the gene variant APOE4 and given this increases our risk of heart disease up to 40 to 50% and increases our risk for Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease up to nearly 30% (and far higher when coupled to the Standard American Diet) many experts are of the opinion that Resveratrol should be routinely taken by all of us (100 mgs/day). But it is resveratrol’s activation of Sirtuin T1 (the so-called ‘longevity molecule’) that I find most compelling, as sirtuins are protein deacetylases known to regulate the aging process itself and are thought to provide the mechanism for the lifespan-extending consequences of a low-calorie diet. Sirtuin activation by the polyphenol resveratrol mimics such lifespan extending effects and can serve to alleviate metabolic diseases.