Red wine compound may have anti-stress effects

The plant compound resveratrol displays anti-stress effects by blocking the expression of an enzyme related to the control of stress in the brain, according to a new study with mice.

The findings shed light onto how resveratrol affects neurological processes. “Resveratrol may be an effective alternative to drugs for treating patients suffering from depression and anxiety disorders,” says co-lead author Ying Xu, a research associate professor in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, depression and anxiety disorders affect 16 million and 40 million people respectively in the United States.

Resveratrol and stress

Resveratrol, which research has linked to a number of health benefits, is a compound in the skin and seeds of grapes and berries. While research has identified resveratrol to have antidepressant effects, the compound’s relationship to phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4), an enzyme the stress hormone corticosterone influences, was unknown.

Corticosterone regulates the body’s response to stress. Too much stress, however, can lead to excessive amounts of the hormone circulating in the brain and, ultimately, development of depression or other mental disorders.

These unknown physiological relationships make drug therapy complex. Current antidepressants instead focus on serotonin or noradrenaline function in the brain, but only one-third of patients with depression enter full remission in response to these medications, says Xu.

Too stressed

In their work with mice, researchers demonstrated that PDE4, which excessive amounts of corticosterone induces, causes depression- and anxiety-like behavior.

The enzyme lowers cyclic adenosine monophosphate—a messenger molecule that signals physiological changes such as cell division, change, migration, and death—in the body, leading to physical alterations in the brain.

Resveratrol displayed neuroprotective effects against corticosterone by inhibiting the expression of PDE4. The research lays the groundwork for use of the compound in novel antidepressants.

Although red wine contains resveratrol, consumption of alcohol carries various health risks, including addiction.

The study appears in the journal Neuropharmacology. Additional researchers from the University at Buffalo and Xuzhou Medical University in China contributed to the work.

Source: University at Buffalo