Resveratrol and sirtuins

After years of research, scientists have now found an anti-aging enzyme in all the living cells. This discovery can bring about a new revolution in the developing drugs which can extend the life span of all humans, preventing a large number of geriatric diseases.

They have succeeded in increasing the life spans of human cells and yeast in laboratories and also extended the life span of worms and flies which according to molecular biology age like the humans. They have the same effect that reduction in calorie intake has on mammals.

Latest findings by scientists have revealed that of all the tested compounds the most common one that boosts anti-aging enzyme is the Reseveratrol. This is an ingredient of red wine which is responsible for lowering the risk of any heart disease. That is why red wine is considered good for the heart. Recent reports on the benefits of red wine on health have increased the interest of the people and scientist in this enzyme called reseveratrol which is classified by the food and drug administration (FDA) as a drug and not as a dietary supplement.

The scientists strongly feel that the most important cellular enzymes, the sirtuins are the universal regulators of the process of aging in practically all the living organisms. Resveratrol acts as a sirtuin activator and that is the property which accounts for its anti aging effects.

The plant resveratrol is believed to have multiple benefits on health. It helps in stress resistance and has pro-survival effects. It is also beneficial for the central nervous system as it is neuro-protective.

It is also tried on rodents and has proved beneficial in treating diabetes in them. It is now being tried on humans to treat diabetes. Dr.Roberto Coppari , of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center says, "We know that sirtuins are expressed in parts of the brain known to govern glucose metabolism, so we hypothesized that the brain could be mediating resveratrol's anti-diabetic actions," To test the hypothesis, we assessed the metabolic consequences of delivering resveratrol directly into the brain of diabetic mice. We found that resveratrol did activate sirtuins in the brain of these mice which resulted in improving their high levels of blood sugar and insulin." He also added that, "These findings may lead to new strategies in the fight against type 2 diabetes. "By knowing that the brain mediates resveratrol's anti-diabetic actions, industry can now focus on developing sirtuin activators that directly target the brain. When orally-delivered, these drugs will likely improve diabetes without affecting the other organs in which activation of sirtuins may not always be beneficial."

Effect of Resveratrol on yeast

When a test of resveratrol and sirtuins was done on S. Cerevisiae a particular variety of yeast used for baking and brewing, it was found that it increased its lifespan by 70%. It produced the highest level of SIRT2 activation amongst the molecules which were tested.

This ability to increase the lifespan in yeast was attributed to its role in stabilizing repetitive DNA sequences. Resveratrol and sirtuins could reduce the levels of toxic molecules but it was also found that it did not have the desired effect in the absence of flourophore, on binding and deacetylation of peptides.

Effect of Resveratrol in elegans and melanogaster

After realising that reservatrol can extend the lifespan of yeast, it was used for anti-aging in humans. So they were first tried on invertebrates like elegans and melanogaster or the fruitfly. They have a very short span of life and thus were ideal for studying basic questions on longevity and aging. Two different concentrations of resveratrol were administered and it was found that the higher concentration resulted in a greater extension of lifespan. But some scientists have refuted this by saying that reservatrol is not effective on flies under a restricted diet.

Resveratrol and sirtuins in Vertebrates

Some studies on resveratrol also showed that they were effective in preventing the growth of carcinogenesis. Several mice whose mammary glands were infected by carcinogens were being treated with resveratrol, to study its effect on the growth of tumours in the liver, lung, colon and breast. The test was conducted on fish, and it was found that resveratrol delayed the beginning of age-related decay in its activities and performance, reducing the degeneration of the brain in these fishes.

It was also reported that Resveratrol and sirtuins treatment protected mice from premature death caused by high calorie diet and against insulin resistance. Because of its neuro-protective effect on the brain it has also been evaluated for parkinsons disease in the cerebellar granule neurons of rats. The loss of cell viability was prevented with the help of resveratrol.

Resveratrol, a molecule found in red grapes, has been shown to improve diabetes when delivered orally to rodents. Resveratrol activates sirtuins, a class of proteins that are thought to underlie many of the beneficial effects of calorie restriction. Previous studies in mice have provided compelling evidence that when sirtuins are activated by resveratrol, diabetes is improved. Sirtuin activators are now being tested in humans as anti-diabetic compounds.

Resveratrol in Weight Loss

Resveratrol triggers the SIRT1 to slow down the process of aging. Besides improving the mitochondrial function and protecting against Diabetes2 and Alzheimers, it also significantly increases the metabolism raising the energy levels.

Secondly it can inhibit the secretion of insulin on consuming high energy carbs and sugar, thus restricting the storage of food as fats. With the intake of resveratrol as supplement, there will be a decrease in appetite which will result in less calorie intake making weight loss easy and effective.

Some facts about Resveratrol

  • Resveratrol was first found in Japanese Knotweed in 1960s and then later discovered in wine gaining widespread attention for its cardio-vascular properties.
  • It is also available as a supplement.
  • Resveratrol extends lifespan by delaying aging. In fact Trans-Reservatrol activates SIRT1, a gene which enhances cell longevity and productivity. It also increases the quantity of cellular mitochondria, enhancing metabolism.
  • Resveratrol regulates the cholesterol levels and inhibits multiple mechanisms which lead to atherosclerosis.
  • It has anti-diabetic properties, as it controls lipid metabolism and glucose homeostasis.
  • It is a good anti-oxidant. Oxidants play a very major role in killing the cells, causing cancer and aging. Experiments were conducted on plants and animals and it was found that reseveratrol had anti-aging and anti-cancer properties.
  • So far it has been used only on animals and plants and it has been found to be very beneficial for their health. This has made it a hot topic for research on its effects on humans. And the scientists are hopeful that it will be a huge landmark in maximising health benefits for humans as well.
  • Regarding its safety, as reports on its side effects and trials are lacking, it is contraindicated in pregnant women and growing children.

Resveratrol modulates metabolic homeostasis improving many pathophysical features responsible for diseases associated with aging. It suppresses vascular inflammation and improves endothelial dysfunction involved in the propagation and initiation of cardiovascular didease. This is possible by the activation of SIRT1by resveratrol

The chemical structure of resveratrol , facilitates the activation of the sirtuin gene, which plays a vital role in suppressing DNA instability by repairing damaged DNA. Aging occurs when older cells cannot effectively and perfectly reproduce the DNA in new cells. Resveratrol controls a gene by deacetylation, which activates the sirtuin gene thus affecting longevity.

A research was conducted at The National Institute of Aging and the Harvard Medical School where mice with different dietary restrictions were administered high and low doses of resveratrol, for studying its impact on health and aging. It was in continuation of a study done earlier in 2006 which had indicated that resveratrol improved the longevity and health of aged mice which were overweight. It was again proved that resveratrol prevented any cardiovascular decline related to age or obesity in mice also preventing inflammation in the heart. Besides the heart it also had positive results in other age related complications in mice. It prevented cataract in mice and also enhanced their motor and balance coordination. It also strengthened their bones in terms of density, volume, thickness, elasticity, mineral content making them healthy. Although they learned that the drug did not have a significant effect on their overall survival.

There was a belief that the greater the dose the greater was the increase in the SIRT1 activity which in turn regulated the effects on age-related diseases. But a report published in 2008 on Experimental Gerontology revealed that a much lower dosage of resveratrol created genomic effect which was nine times greater than plain resveratrol or a diet with restricted calories.

Another study revealed that when a mild expression of SIRT1 was given to mice it slowed down the aging of the heart, while a greater dose induced cardiomyopathy. There was also an increase in oxidative stress while moderate doses helped in inducing resistance to apoptosis and oxidative stress.