Resveratrol is a plant polyphenol, an antioxidant compound that is believed to be capable of protecting the body against factors that pose a greater risk for ailments like cancer and cardiovascular disease. Sources of this compound include dark chocolate, berries red grapes and peanuts. Scientists also believe that this compound possesses life-extending properties, and that it can help combat the effects of certain cancers, diabetes, obesity and a myriad of other ailments. Find out more about Resveratrol by reading our article Resveratrol Reveiw and AN INDEPTH LOOK AT RESVERATROL. Scientists had been trying to figure out how does resveratrol work to protect against several age-related diseases, and the findings of a recent study may have solved this mystery.
As we age, we become more prone to suffering from certain diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Animal studies showed that some of disease can be prevented if calories are restricted. More than a decade ago, research helped discover that the consumption of resveratrol also results in calorie restriction and it helped organisms like flies, fish, yeast and worms live longer. Sirtuins, a group of enzymes that control various biological pathways and play a role in the aging process, are affected by resveratrol. Resveratrol is actually an STAC, which refers to both natural and synthetic compounds that activate the sirtuin hormone.
In the study mentioned above, the role of STACs in the activation of SIRT1, a sirtuin enzyme, was explored. SIRT1 is present in the cell, where it separates an acetyl chemical group and its protein substrates. According to previous research, STACs made SIRT1 more active when substrates were tagged with fluorescent compound, but in the case of untagged substrates, the activity of SIRT1 remained unaffected. The hypothesis that the scientists reached was that a certain property is required for SIRT1 to be active, which was mimicked by fluorescent chemical group that the scientists used to track cells.
To prove this, SIRT1 activity was tested in the presence of compounds that resemble the fluorescent tags. They discovered that SIRT1 substrates often have specific amino acids at specific positions and an STAC like resveratrol can only activate a sirtuin like SIRT1 when these amino acids are present. Changing or removing these amino acids nullifies the effect STACs have on SIRT1 activity.
The conclusion that the scientists reached is that the activity of mitochondria, the membrane-bound organelles responsible for the production of energy in cells, is ultimately increased by STACs like resveratrol. According to some of them, this is how age-related diseases are affected by STACs. Knowing how resveratrol works has made it possible to engineer much better molecules so that the effects of resveratrol can be triggered more effective and precisely. Read our article on Resveratrol Benefits to learn more.
In simpler words, the mentioned study alludes to the fact that resveratrol is capable of protecting cells from inflammation and oxidative stress. These not only happen to be the two main, underlying factors that lead to premature aging and a myriad of age-related diseases, but they also disrupt and harm healthy cellular activity. Once resveratrol activates SIRT1, the enzyme protects cells from being damaged by free radicals and obstructs inflammatory substances like NF-kappa B. So, for those trying to figure out how does resveratrol work, it works by activating SIRT1, which slows down the aging process.
Kugel, Sita, and Raul Mostoslavsky. 2013. SIRT1 activators: the evidence STACks up. http://dash.harvard.edu