Latest scientific news 12 August 2019

Another piece in the puzzle – Can red wine prevent depression?

A new study has shown that the resveratrol found in red wine demonstrates stress relieving effects in anxiety and depression. This could be due to the resveratrol’s ability to control an enzyme in the brain that is linked to stress.

Resveratrol has been shown to have numerous beneficial properties on health and is found abundantly in the skins and seeds of berries and grapes. It is a natural  polyphenol found in red wine, which has numerous pharmacological properties including anti-stress and antidepressant-like abilities. The researchers explained that this polypenol specifically played a role in an enzyme (phosphodiesterase 4, PDE4) which is influenced by the stress hormone corticosterone. This finding was new in their study.

Cortisol or corticosterone is released in the body as a response to stress and excess stress can trigger excess release of the hormone that reaches the brain and leads to depression and anxiety. At present the treatment for depression and anxiety focuses on serotonin or noradrenaline – neurotransmitters in the brain.

For their study, the scientists used an animal model with mice on which they showed that the enzyme PDE4 in the brain was influenced by the excess cortisol released as a response to stress. This led to anxiety and depression related symptoms in the mice. It did so by lowering levels of a messenger molecule called cyclic adenosine monophosphate.

Normally, corticosterone regulates the body’s response to stress. When there’s too much stress, though, the large amounts of the hormone circulating in the brain lead to an excess of PDE4. This in turn physically alters the brain, causing the problems.

After administering resveratrol to the mice, the scientists found that the polyphenol could help reverse these negative effects and observed a neuroprotective effect in the brain by working against the damage caused by corticosterone. As a result, the mice appeared to be considerably less depressed and anxious upon being stressed. The polyphenol successfully inhibited the expression of PDE4.

Resveratrol may be an effective alternative to drugs for treating patients suffering from depression and anxiety disorders conclude the researchers. However, they warn that resveratrol’s beneficial effect does not translate into red wine consumption since excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages is associated with various health risks.

(The equivalent amount that was given to the test animals (1 mg of resveratrol per kg of body weight) would be approx. 88 bottles of red wine to be effective in an 90 kg man.

Zhu X et al, The antidepressant- and anxiolytic-like effects of resveratrol: Involvement of phosphodiesterase-4D inhibition, Neuropharmacology 153, 2019: 20-31.

For more information about this article, read the scientific abstract here.