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How That Glass of Red Wine Might Help You Live Longer
Date:5/1/2012

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 1 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers have found new evidence showing that resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, may play a role in preventing cell aging.

The study in rodents found that when mice had a particular gene -- SIRT1 -- knocked out, or turned off, resveratrol had no effect on them. But tests of muscle tissue in mice with a normal SIRT1 gene that were given resveratrol found that the substance boosted mitochondrial function.

Mitochondria provide the energy that cells need to function. A decrease in mitochondrial energy production has been linked to a variety of diseases, including diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, as well as to the aging process itself, said senior study author David Sinclair, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

But don't go reaching for that Chianti yet. Yes, resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes. But "the amounts we gave to our mice would be like drinking 100 glasses of red wine a day," Sinclair said.

Instead, the goal is to develop synthetic resveratrol compounds that activate SIRT1 and could be taken as medication. "My colleagues are in the middle of developing better molecules that we hope will be medicines that will be used to treat diseases of aging, not to extend lifespan, though that may be a side effect," Sinclair said.

The study is in the May 1 issue of Cell Metabolism.

While previous studies have also suggested that resveratrol may have anti-aging properties, the precise mechanism of resveratrol has been controversial. Several studies, including work with yeast, worms and flies, have found that resveratrol acts on a class of seven genes known as sirtuins and, in human cells, SIRT1 in particular.

But other researchers have argued that resveratrol may work by activating a separate energy pathway called AMPK, which is also related to mitochondrial energy produc
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