I’ll Drink To That—Red Wine Substance Calms Blood Vessel Inflammation
New research indicates that a natural antioxidant substance in red wine—resveratrol—effectively turns down inflammation in the linings of blood vessels. Such inflammation is a hallmark of the process that underlies atherosclerosis—itself a process that is linked to the development of most heart disease.
Although we commonly refer to “heart” disease, the more accurate medical term is cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is still our number one killer. It’s a term that emphasizes the real problem: CVD ultimately affects the heart’s ability to pump gases, nutrients, and wastes throughout the body, because the system depends on the health of the network of blood vessels that carry blood to and from every cell in the body.
Blood vessels may seem like inert tubes, but they are not. They’re complex structures with specialized tissues that perform a variety of crucial functions. Vessels must be flexible, yet retain their firm, trim shape, They must be resistant to intrusion, yet allow for the exchange of cells and other components as needed. The delicate layer of specialized cells lining the interior of blood vessels—called the endothelium—is especially sensitive to conditions that may foster inflammation. Too little exercise appears to weaken the endothelium, just as too much sugar circulating in the bloodstream may also harm this sensitive tissue.
Once hailed as a miracle substance that might be harnessed to dramatically lengthen lifespans, resveratrol has fallen out of the spotlight in recent years. Some of it’s early hype failed to pan out, and the media seems to have lost interest. But scientists have not. Austrian and German researchers have discovered that resveratrol inhibits the development of inflammation-promoting factors in the endothelium. How it does this involves a complex series of steps that follow the binding of resveratol in the bloodstream with a protein that in turn regulates the production of inflammatory proteins. In essence, resveratrol acts to turn down inflammation in the blood vessels.
"We now know more precisely how resveratrol inhibits the formation of the inflammatory factors that trigger cardiovascular diseases. This is an important finding in view of the fact that more recent research has shown that cardiovascular diseases are significantly promoted by inflammatory processes in the body," said Junior Professor Andrea Pautz.
It’s interesting to note that red wine is an integral component of the extremely heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. What do you think? Do you enjoy a little red wine with dinner? Are yo umore likely to indulge now that you know it could help fight heart disease? I’d love to hear your comments.
F. Bollmann, J. Art, J. Henke, K. Schrick, V. Besche, M. Bros, H. Li, D. Siuda, N. Handler, F. Bauer, T. Erker, F. Behnke, B. Monch, L. Hardle, M. Hoffmann, C.-Y. Chen, U. Forstermann, V. M. Dirsch, O. Werz, H. Kleinert, A. Pautz. Resveratrol post-transcriptionally regulates pro-inflammatory gene expression via regulation of KSRP RNA binding activity. Nucleic Acids Research, 2014; 42 (20): 12555 DOI: 10.1093/nar/gku1033