Resveratrol & Neurodegeneration
Degenerative nerve diseases (also called neurodegenerative diseases) destroy or impair the functionality of nerves (i.e. neurons) in the brain, brainstem, and spinal cord. Depending on the specific areas of the central nervous system affected, neurodegeneration can lead to Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (often referred to as ALS or "Lou Gehrig's Disease”), multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease. Resveratrol is a promising treatment for neurodegenerative diseases.
A signature of Alzheimer’s disease is the development of plaques in the brain. These plaques, which are caused by amyloid-beta peptides, deposit in clumps outside neurons and cause degeneration and eventual death of the neurons. The result is that the affected areas of the brain (typically the parietal lobe, frontal lobe, and sections of the frontal cortex and cingulated gyrus) effectively die, leading to severe cognitive impairment.
ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, attacks and eventually kills neurons that are responsible for controlling voluntary muscles. The result is that the brain looses the ability to send signals to the muscles and eventually the muscles waste away. In the final stages of the disease, the patient looses the ability to breathe on his or her own.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease where the body's immune system attacks nerves in the brain and spinal cord. In particular, MS attacks the insulation (i.e. myelin) covering the axon of the nerve cell – the result is that the nerve cell is not able to effectively communicate, affecting physical mobility and the ability to think.
Parkinson’s disease is characterized by the death or impairment of brain cells that produce dopamine - a chemical messenger that has various roles in the brain including cognition and voluntary movement. This lack of dopamine can cause trembling, slowness of movement, stiffness, and poor coordination and balance.
Resveratrol is a promising treatment for neurodegenerative diseases. This is because SIRT1 (which is activated by resveratrol) fixes damaged or 'improperly folded' DNA proteins. Alzheimer's, ALS, MS, and Parkinson's disease are all related to improperly folded DNA proteins. Several scientific studies have revealed resveratrol’s neuroprotective capabilities. For instance: