Resveratrol Effective Treating Alzheimer's Disease

Resveratrol was able to restore the blood-brain barrier, preventing inflammation that is characteristic of the disease.

Findings from a recent study suggest that resveratrol can restore the stability of the blood-brain barrier in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, which reduces the amount of immune molecules that infiltrate brain tissues.

Researchers found this lessened neuronal inflammation and reduced cognitive decline in patients taking resveratrol, according to a study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference. In patients with Alzheimer’s disease, the brain is thought to be damaged from an inflammatory response due a buildup of abnormal Abeta40 and Abeta42, which are associated with the destruction of neurons.

Researchers believe their findings indicate that immune molecules in the blood can enter the brain through a leaky blood-brain barrier, according to the study.

“These findings suggest that resveratrol imposes a kind of crowd control at the border of the brain. The agent seems to shut out unwanted immune molecules that can exacerbate brain inflammation and kill neurons,” said researcher Charbel Moussa, MD, PhD. “These are very exciting findings because it shows that resveratrol engages the brain in a measurable way, and that the immune response to Alzheimer's disease comes, in part, from outside the brain.”

In the study, researchers tested resveratrol in 119 patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers analyzed molecules in the patients’ cerebrospinal fluid (CFS). Patients were either given high-dose pure synthetic resveratrol or a placebo for 1 year.

Previous studies have indicated that Alzheimer’s could potentially be prevented by long-term caloric restriction, an effect that resveratrol has since it activates sirtuins. In the current study, researchers found that patients treated with resveratrol had a 50% decrease in matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) levels in their CSF.

They also found these levels decreased when sirtuin1 (SIRT1) was activated. The blood-brain barrier can disintegrate as a result of high levels of MMP-9, and let other molecules enter the brain.

“These new findings are exciting because they increase our understanding of how resveratrol may be clinically beneficial to individuals with Alzheimer's disease,” said lead researcher R. Scott Turner, MD, PhD. “In particular, they point to the important role of inflammation in the disease, and the potent anti-inflammatory effects of resveratrol.”

Researchers also discovered that resveratrol increased levels of molecules associated with a beneficial immune response, which suggests it involves the inflammatory cells within the brain.

“A puzzling finding from the resveratrol study (as well as immunotherapy strategies for Alzheimer's under investigation) is the greater shrinkage of the brain found with treatment. These new findings support the notion that resveratrol decreases swelling that results from inflammation in Alzheimer's brain,” Dr Turner said. “This seemingly paradoxical effect is also found with many of the drugs that are beneficial for patients with multiple sclerosis -- another brain disease characterized by excessive inflammation.”

Further phase 3 studies are needed to explore this treatment option, but it is likely that it could be a standalone treatment since it does not inhibit tau, which destroys brain neurons, the researchers concluded.