Red wine helps scientists discover longevity drugs

Red wine, an extremely popular alcohol drink, may extend human lifespan at a great extent, than scientists though before. The new research of red wine properties may accelerate the search for longevity drugs.

Lab mice were dosed with resveratrol, a substance, which can be found in some sorts of red wines. The study was conducted as a part of a new wave of interest in medications that may enhance longevity. It is not ruled out that scientists will soon unravel the mystery of life-extending elixirs based on biological survival mechanisms. The drugs would help switch the body’s resources from fertility to tissue maintenance.

This can be exemplified with another research of calorie-restriction diet, which was conducted on laboratory rodents. A restriction in the consumption of calories extended the life of lab mice by about 30 percent. However, it goes without saying that this method will not work with many people. To crown it all, it has not been proven successful with humans.

Resveratrol is a phytoalexin produced naturally by several plants when under attack by pathogens such as bacteria or fungi. Resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes and is a constituent of red wine but, based on extrapolation from animal trials, apparently not in sufficient amounts to explain the "French paradox" that the incidence of coronary heart disease is relatively low in southern France despite high dietary intake of saturated fats

The groups of Howitz and Sinclair reported in 2003 in the journal Nature that resveratrol significantly extends the lifespan of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Later studies conducted by Sinclair showed that resveratrol also prolongs the lifespan of the worm Caenorhabditis elegans and the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. In 2007 a different group of researchers was able to reproduce the Sinclair's results with C. elegans but a third group could not achieve consistent increases in lifespan of Drosophila or C. elegans.

In 2006, Italian scientists obtained the first positive result of resveratrol supplementation in a vertebrate. Using a short-lived fish, Nothobranchius furzeri, with a median life span of nine weeks, they found that a maximal dose of resveratrol increased the median lifespan by 56%. Compared with the control fish at nine weeks, that is by the end of the latter's life, the fish supplemented with resveratrol showed significantly higher general swimming activity and better learning to avoid an unpleasant stimulus. The authors noted a slight increase of mortality in young fish caused by resveratrol and hypothesized that it is its weak toxic action that stimulated the defense mechanisms and resulted in the life span extension. Later the same year, Sinclair reported that resveratrol counteracted the detrimental effects of a high-fat diet in mice.

The high fat diet was compounded by adding hydrogenated coconut oil to the standard diet; it provided 60% of energy from fat, and the mice on it consumed about 30% more calories then the mice on standard diet. Both the mice fed the standard diet and the high-fat diet plus 22 mg/kg resveratrol had a 30% lower risk of death than the mice on the high-fat diet. Gene expression analysis indicated the addition of resveratrol opposed the alteration of 144 out of 155 gene pathways changed by the high-fat diet. Insulin and glucose levels in mice on the high-fat+resveratrol diet were closer to the mice on standard diet than to the mice on the high-fat diet. However, addition of resveratrol to the high-fat diet did not change the levels of free fatty acids and cholesterol, which were much higher than in the mice on standard diet.

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Author`s name Editorial Team