A substance that occurs naturally in red wine, raspberries and dark chocolate has been found to restore the strength of a key barrier in the brain that protects against Alzheimer’s.
Resveratrol was given to patients in a trial and found to impose a “crowd control” function at the blood-brain barrier, where harmful molecules gain access to the brain in Alzheimer’s patients.
The dose of resveratrol, which was administered over a year, would be the equivalent to that found in 1,000 bottles of red wine.
In Alzheimer’s patients the brain is damaged by inflammation, thought to be a reaction to the buildup of abnormal proteins which are linked to the destruction of neurons.
“The agent seems to shut out unwanted immune molecules that can exacerbate brain inflammation and kill neurons,” said Charbel Moussa, scientific and clinical research director of the Georgetown University Medical Centre, which conducted the research.
“These are very exciting findings because it shows that resveratrol engages the brain in a measurable way, and that the immune response to Alzheimer’s disease comes, in part from outside the brain.”