One of the molecular pathways that resveratrol - component of grapes and red wine - uses to reduce bad cholesterol, heart disease and some types of cancer has been discovered by scientists.
Also found in blueberries, cranberries, mulberries, peanuts and pistachios, resveratrol is associated with beneficial health effects in aging, inflammation and metabolism.
Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) found that resveratrol controls the body's inflammatory response as a binding partner with the estrogen receptor without stimulating estrogenic cell proliferation, which is good news for its possible use as a model for drug design.
Kendall Nettles, a TSRI associate professor who led the study, said estrogen has beneficial effects on conditions like diabetes and obesity but may increase cancer risk.
In the new study, Nettles, Jerome C. Nwachukwu, the first author of the study and a research associates in the Nettles laboratory, and their colleagues found that resveratrol is an effective inhibitor of interleukin 6 (IL-6), a pro-inflammatory protein that is part of the immune system (although IL-6 can be anti-inflammatory during exercise). High levels of IL-6 are also associated with poor breast cancer patient survival.
According to the study, resveratrol regulates IL-6 without stimulating cell proliferation by altering a number of co-regulators of the estrogen receptor.
The study has been published in the online journal eLife.