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Red wine ingredient found to boost endurance

Nov. 16, 2006
Courtesy Cell Press
and World Science staff

A red wine in­gre­di­ent, ear­li­er linked to long life in an­i­mals, al­so “re-programs” mus­cle to double en­du­rance, ac­cord­ing to a new study in mice. 

The chem­i­cal, resver­a­trol, was al­so re­ported in this and an­oth­er re­cent study to pro­tect the ro­dents against the ill ef­fects of obes­i­ty.

Pi­not Noir grapes, which con­tain rel­a­tively high amounts of res­ver­a­trol, as do Pi­not Noir wines. How­ev­er, re­search­ers have­n't de­ter­mined what doses would be help­ful in hu­mans, if at all. (Cour­te­sy Che­ha­lem Ridge­crest Vine­yard, New­berg, Or­e­gon)


The new work traces the chem­i­cal’s ef­fects to im­prove­ments in the func­tion of tiny “power plants” with­in cells, known as mi­to­chon­dria. 

This of­fers ad­di­tion­al in­sight in­to how it works, said Jo­han Auw­erx of the In­sti­tute for Ge­net­ics and Mo­lec­u­lar and Cel­lu­lar Bi­ol­o­gy in Il­lkirch, France, who led the stu­dy.

His team found that res­ver­a­trol boosted the ac­tiv­i­ty of a gene in­volved in mi­to­chon­dria pro­duc­tion. This in­crease in turn was caused by res­ver­a­trol’s ef­fects on a se­cond gene called SIRT1, which has been linked to lon­gev­i­ty.

The re­search­ers al­so found in hu­mans a con­nec­tion be­tween vari­a­tions in this gene and dif­fer­ences in en­er­gy ex­pend­i­ture. This en­hances the pos­si­bi­li­ty that the mouse stu­dy has hu­man re­le­vance, and in­di­cates that the gene serves a “key reg­u­la­tor” of en­er­gy and met­a­bol­ic bal­ance, the sci­en­t­ists said. 

Thus, drugs that stim­u­late the gene may help treat cer­tain dis­or­ders tied to mi­to­chon­d­ria mal­func­tion, the re­search­ers wrote in the stu­dy, which ap­pears in the ad­vance on­line is­sue of the re­search jour­nal Cell

Mi­to­chon­dria “bear a cen­tral role in cel­lu­lar me­tab­o­lism, es­pe­cial­ly in tis­sues with high met­a­bol­ic in­ten­si­ty,” they wrote. Thus, it’s “not sur­pris­ing that their dysfunc­tion has been as­so­ci­at­ed with car­di­o­vas­cu­lar, met­a­bol­ic, and neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases.”


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A red wine ingredient earlier linked to long life in animals also “re-programs” muscle to boost its exercise capacity, according to a new study in mice. The chemical, resveratrol, doubles the physical endurance of mice, the research found. It was also reported in this and another recent study to protect the rodents against the ill effects of obesity. The new work traces the chemical’s effects to improvements in the function of the cellular “power plants” known as mitochondria. This offers additional insight into how it works, said Johan Auwerx of the Institute for Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology in Illkirch, France, who led the study. His team found that resveratrol boosted the activity of a gene involved in the production of mitochondria. This increase in turn was caused by resveratrol’s effects on a gene called SIRT1, linked to longevity. The researchers also found in humans a connection between variations in that gene and differences in energy expenditure. That indicates that the gene serves a “key regulator” of energy and metabolic balance, the scientists said, so drugs that stimulate the gene may be helpful for certain disorders. Mitochondria “bear a central role in cellular metabolism, especially in tissues with high metabolic intensity,” the researchers wrote in the study, which appears in the advance online issue of the research journal Cell. Thus it’s “not surprising that their dysfunction has been associated with cardiovascular, metabolic, and neurodegenerative diseases.”