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Blueberry Compound Pterostilbene May Protect Against Asthma


A blueberry compound called pterostilbene appears to protect against asthma by reversing airway inflammation caused by benzo(a)pyrene (BaP). Pterostilbene proved to be better than another compound, resveratrol, which is found in grapes.

Pterostilbene seems more effective than resveratrol

In the new asthma study, which was conducted at Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan, researchers working with human cells from the linings of the airways found that BaP could promote the development of asthma. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by constriction of airway smooth muscle. The disease affects 10 percent of children and 8 percent of adults in the United States.

BaP is a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon that is released to the air when many materials are burned. Natural sources of BaP include forest fires and volcanoes, while man-made sources are vehicle emissions, wood and coal burning, cooking of certain foods, and tobacco smoke. BaP can be transported for long distances in air currents and may cause cancer and genetic damage.

The researchers compared the blueberry compound pterostilbene with resveratrol, which is chemically related to pterostilbene, and their impact on reducing inflammation in the airway linings. Previous studies have indicated pterostilbene is more effective than resveratrol.

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This study, however, is the first to show an interaction between BaP and the linings of the airways, as well as the first to “provide evidence that pterostilbene has great potential for preventing benzo(a)pyrene-associated asthma,” according to the authors.

To arrive at these findings, the researchers exposed cells from airways linings to BaP with and without pterostilbene or resveratrol. They observed that BaP prompted production of cytokines, and these inflammatory substances then remodeled the bronchial smooth muscle.

While addition of resveratrol to the affected airway lining partially reversed the inflammatory response and remodeling, pterostilbene completely reversed airways remodeling. The study’s authors noted that pterostilbene performed better than resveratrol, as “resveratrol has a low bioavailability to cells,” and that “structurally, pterostilbene has a better metabolic stability than resveratrol.”

In another recent study that compared pterostilbene with resveratrol, the former was found to have more anticancer potency than the latter in a study focusing on colon cancer. Another study showed that combining pterostilbene with tamoxifen increased the inhibitory effect on breast cancer cells in the lab.

According to Jeremy Bartos, PhD, ingredients product manager for pTeroPure, a branded pterostilbene ingredient by Chromadex, this latest study is important because it “further confirms that pterostilbene’s bioavailability confers a large advantage over resveratrol for use in the prevention and treatment of certain health issues,” such as asthma.

Chiou YS et al. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2011 Mar 23; 59(6):2725-33
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Image source: Wikipedia