Large trial shows how resveratrol might treat Alzheimer's disease

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Natural compound resveratrol shows promise for Alzheimer's disease

Researchers have published results of the largest trial to date that shows resveratrol might be a future option for treating Alzheimer's disease. The finding highlights how the compound found in red wine, grapes and dark chocolate stabilizes brain plaque to halt dementia.

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The study, conducted by Georgetown University Medical Center researchers, included 119 participants with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease who were given a pure form of resveratrol. The highest dose used was equal to the amount contained in 1000 bottles of red wine.

What reversatrol does in the brain

R. Scott Turner, MD, PhD, director of the Memory Disorders Program at Georgetown University Medical Center who spearheaded the study said resveratrol appears to cross the blood-brain barrier, which is an "important observation".

Resveratrol reduces levels of amyloid-beta40 (Abeta40) in the brain that was measurable in the study in blood and cerebrospinal fluid.

Study participants given increasing doses of resveratrol over a period of twelve months. The maximum dose of the pharmaceutical grade resveratrol used in the investigation was 1 Gm, taken by mouth, twice a day.

Abeta40 is one of several amyloid proteins thought to be responsible for the entanglement of nerve fibers that causes memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease.

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Also read: Why our aging brain becomes susceptible to Alzheimer's disease

What next?

To conduct the study, the Georgetown researchers filed an "investigational new drug" application with the U.S FDA. They then randomized two groups of patients to receive either resveratrol or a placebo.

The group give resveratrol showed a decrease in amyloid-beta40 (Abeta40) levels in blood and cerebrospinal fluid, while the placebo group had no change.

"A decrease in Abeta40 is seen as dementia worsens and Alzheimer's disease progresses," Turner explains, adding that more studies are needed to show for certain that resveratrol is beneficial for treating Alzheimer's disease.

Another unexplained finding was that patients given the compound lost brain volume, found on MRI, compared to the placebo group. Turner said it may from reduced inflammation in the brain.

The results are published online in the journal Neurology.

The next step is a larger Phase III study to find out if the naturally occurring compound resveratrol is an effective treatment for people at high risk for the disease or for those already battling Alzheimer's, Turner says.

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