Giving mice with Alzheimer’s-like disease the equivalent of a couple of glasses of red wine daily slows memory loss and brain cell death, a new study shows.
The researchers calibrated the animals’ wine intake to match the US Department of Agriculture’s definition of moderate wine consumption, a single 5-ounce glass daily for women and two glasses for men. “Moderate consumption is the key factor,” Dr. Giulio Maria Pasinetti of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City said.
On a random basis, Pasinetti and his team gave mice cabernet sauvignon or ethanol -- the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages -- in their drinking water for seven months. Another group of mice drank plain water. All of the animals had a genetic defect that caused them to develop amyloid plaques in their brains, the type of damage that occurs in humans with Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers then tested the animals’ memory by putting them through a series of maze tests, after the animals had been alcohol-free for three days. The wine-drinking mice learned how to escape from the maze significantly faster than those drinking alcohol-spiked water or water only.
Based on the findings, and given that moderate wine consumption may protect the heart, Pasinetti said, older people in good health who don’t have the metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, liver problems, issues with alcohol dependence or other reasons to avoid alcohol can choose to drink red wine moderately as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Drinking wine, he noted, is “a good lifestyle factor that everybody appears to like.”
Source: The FASEB Journal, November 2006.