Resveratrol's Secrets Revealed!

Unless you’ve been living in another solar system, you’ve repeatedly heard the news that resveratrol, a component of red wine and grapes, is associated with reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol, heart disease, and some types of cancer. Also found in blueberries, cranberries, mulberries, peanuts, and pistachios, resveratrol is associated with beneficial health effects in aging, inflammation and metabolism. Yet researchers have not been able to explain how and why resveratrol works its magic.

Now at last, scientists from the Jupiter, Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have identified one of the molecular pathways that resveratrol uses to achieve its beneficial action. A release from TSRI report that the team found that resveratrol controls the body's inflammatory response as a binding partner with the estrogen receptor without stimulating estrogenic cell proliferation, which is good news for its possible use as a model for drug design.

The study was published as an accepted manuscript in April 2014 in the online journal eLife, a publication supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society and the Wellcome Trust.

The release quotes study leader Kendall Nettles, a TSRI associate professor, as saying, "Estrogen has beneficial effects on conditions like diabetes and obesity but may increase cancer risk. What hasn't been well understood until now is that you can achieve those same beneficial effects with something like resveratrol."

The problem with resveratrol, Nettles said, is that it really doesn't work very efficiently in the body. "Now that we understand that we can do this through the estrogen receptor, there might compounds other than resveratrol out there that can do the same thing—only better," he said.

"Our findings should lead scientists to reconsider the estrogen receptor as a main target of resveratrol—and any analogues," said Jerome C. Nwachukwu, the first author of the study and a research associates in the Nettles laboratory. "It has gotten swept under the rug."

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