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Resveratrol: A Real Anti-aging Product

By: Peter T. Pugliese, MD
Posted: November 25, 2008, from the December 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 3 of 13

Remember that sirtuins are the initiators of the deacetylation of the histones, and thus inactivate certain segments of DNA. It is this very action of resveratrol that makes it so effective as an anti-aging and anti-cancer agent. Resveratrol is capable of the activation of Sir2, which turns on the deacetylation process. This is the same result seen as an effect of caloric restriction (CR) in the life-extension process. This process is still not completely understood, but at least some progress has been made. A new phase of aging control is being entered, and you are in on the ground floor. The activation of Sir2 is only one aspect of the benefits of resveratrol, so let’s look at some others.

Oral absorption. Resveratrol has been found to be highly absorbed—at least 70% in human beings—through oral doses. The compound is metabolized to resveratrol sulfate, but resveratrol glucuronide is the most common metabolite. There does not seem to be a problem with the absorption of resveratrol when taken orally.4

As an antioxidant. Many organic compounds, such as resveratrol, contain aromatic groups (six carbon ring structures), making them able to function as antioxidants. They achieve this action by forming stable radical structures, thereby preventing continuous oxidation. Resveratrol contains two aromatic groups that provide higher antioxidant protection than vitamin C and vitamin E.5 The antioxidant activity of resveratrol has been associated with protection against the initiation of atherosclerosis, often associated with oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL). In early atherosclerosis lesions, blood platelets are seen that, when activated, can generate reactive oxygen species (ROS). Resveratrol can inhibit ROS formation, and thus reduce lipid peroxidation.6

Resveratrol and heart disease. The French are noted for having a relatively low incident of coronary heart disease. This phenomenon has been attributed to the high consumption of wine—the red varieties include resveratrol—in France.7 The most accepted explanation for how this heart protection occurs by resveratrol is the inhibition of platelet aggregation.8 Platelets are tiny blue (Wright’s stain) cells without nuclei that function to stop bleeding by clumping at the site of a wound. They are activated by adenosine diphosphate (ADP), collagen, thrombin and other factors, but when activated, they change their shape and clump around the damaged area in an attempt to seal off leaking blood. When this clumping becomes excessive, it can lead to the beginning of cardiovascular disease.

An additional cardioprotective effect of resveratrol has been related to its vasorelaxation properties. Investigators concluded that resveratrol causes vasorelaxation in endothelium-intact and endothelium-dependent aortic rings by the action of nitric oxide-dependent and nitric oxide-independent mechanisms.9 Nitric acid is a major vasodilator substance in the body.