The gradual decrease in endothelial function over time is a key factor in the development of diseases associated with ageing, especially cardiovascular disease (CVD). Many epidemiologic studies suggest greater protection against CVD from wine than from other beverages containing alcohol, with at least one factor being the polyphenols in red wine (RWPs).
The present study in rats found that the administration of red wine polyphenols protected against ageing-induced endothelial dysfunction. As stated by the authors: ‘The present findings indicate that regular intake of RWPs in the drinking water starting at young age (16 week-old) prevented the aging-related endothelial dysfunction most likely by reducing the excessive oxidative stress in the arterial wall.’ They further suggest an important role of NADPH oxidase and possibly also the angiotensin system in the abnormal vascular response in aging. Their study showed that, ‘RWPs intake had also a physiological beneficial effect since it improved the physical exercise capacity of old rats.’
Forum members thought that this was an excellent paper, as it begins to delve into mechanisms by which polyphenols improve health. A mechanism is addressed and results are consistent with the working hypothesis of a specific interaction between polyphenols and peculiar enzymes. There is a satisfying agreement between basic mechanisms and pathophysiology.
Some scientists believe that interventions to improve endothelial function (such as the consumption of red wine or other sources of polyphenols) should begin earlier in life to slow down the endothelial dysfunction that occurs with ageing. This study in rats tends to support such a belief.
Reference: Dal-Ros S, Zoll J, Lang AL, Auger C, Keller N, Bronner C, Geny B, Schini-Kerth VB. Chronic intake of red wine polyphenols by young rats prevents aging-induced endothelial dysfunction and decline in physical performance: Role of NADPH oxidase. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2011;404:743-749