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How red wine may shield brain from stroke damage
Date:4/21/2010

Researchers at Johns Hopkins say they have discovered the way in which red wine consumption may protect the brain from damage following a stroke.

Two hours after feeding mice a single modest dose of resveratrol, a compound found in the skins and seeds of red grapes, the scientists induced an ischemic stroke by essentially cutting off blood supply to the animals' brains. They found that the animals that had preventively ingested the resveratrol suffered significantly less brain damage than the ones that had not been given the compound.

Sylvain Dor, Ph.D., an associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine and pharmacology and molecular sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says his study suggests that resveratrol increases levels of an enzyme (heme oxygenase) already known to shield nerve cells in the brain from damage. When the stroke hits, the brain is ready to protect itself because of elevated enzyme levels. In mice that lacked the enzyme, the study found, resveratrol had no significant protective effect and their brain cells died after a stroke.

"Our study adds to evidence that resveratrol can potentially build brain resistance to ischemic stroke," says Dor, the leader of the study, which appears online in the journal Experimental Neurology.

Red wine has gotten a lot of attention lately for its purported health benefits. Along with reducing stroke, moderate wine consumption has been linked to a lowered incidence of cardiovascular disease the so-called French paradox. Despite diets high in butter, cheese and other saturated fats, the paradox goes, the French have a relatively low incidence of cardiovascular events, which some have attributed to the regular drinking of red wine.

Dor cautions against taking resveratrol supplements, available alongside vitamins and minerals and on websites touting its benefits, because it is unclear whether such supplements could do harm
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Contact: Stephanie Desmon
sdesmon1@jhmi.edu
410-955-8665
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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