Researchers at Johns Hopkins say they have discovered the way in which red wine consumption may protect the brain from damage following a stroke.
Two hours after feeding mice a single modest dose of resveratrol the scientists induced an ischemic stroke by essentially cutting off blood supply to the animals’ brains. They found that the animals that had preventively ingested the resveratrol suffered significantly less brain damage than the ones that had not been given the compound.
Sylvain Doré, associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine and pharmacology and molecular sciences at the Johns Hopkins University says his study suggests that resveratrol increases levels of an enzyme (heme oxygenase) already known to shield nerve cells in the brain from damage. When the stroke hits, the brain is ready to protect itself because of elevated enzyme levels. In mice that lacked the enzyme, the study found, resveratrol had no significant protective effect and their brain cells died after a stroke. “Our study adds to evidence that resveratrol can potentially build brain resistance to ischemic stroke,” stated Doré, the leader of the study.
Doré’s research suggests that the amount needed could end up being quite small because the suspected beneficial mechanism is indirect. “Resveratrol itself may not be shielding brain cells from free radical damage directly, but instead, resveratrol, and its metabolites, may be prompting the cells to defend themselves,” he said. “It’s not likely that brain cells can have high enough local levels of resveratrol to be protective”. The resveratrol is needed to jump-start this protective enzymatic system that is already present within the cells. “Even a small amount may be sufficient.”
According to Doré, his ongoing research also suggests some therapeutic benefits to giving resveratrol to mice after a stroke to limit further neuronal damage.
Source: Resveratrol protects against experimental stroke: Putative neuroprotective role of heme oxygenase. Yoshihito Sakata, Hean Zhuang, Herman Kwansa, Raymond C. Koehler, Sylvain Dor. Experimental Neurology, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2010.03.032