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woc 16- grapes and resveratrol.docx

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McGill University
CHEM 181
David Harpp

DIET AND HEART DISEASE pages 105112 GRAPES AND RESVERATROLThe French eat unhealthily yet they have the lowest death rate from heart disease in the European Union In North America our incidence of heart disease is double that of the French They are also much slimmer o The French Paradox is said to be because of wine particularly red wine o More specifically it is because of resveratrol an antioxidant compound in the polyphenol familySimplified argument most heart attacks occur when a blood clot forms in a coronary artery and chokes off the blood flow starving the heart of oxygen Blood clots form when the endothelium the inner lining of the artery is damaged Such damage is associated with the formation of deposits called plaque which in turn are linked to the presence of excessive amounts of cholesterol in the blood But cholesterol carries out its dirty work only when it undergoes a chemical change stimulated by the presence of oxidizing agents such as free radicals Therefore oxidized cholesterol is the real culprit and if its production can be curtailed the risk of a heart attack can be reduced Antioxidants can do this at least in a test tubeResveratrol can also reduce the bloods clotting activity o They are being sold as pills in health food stores but this is questionable since resveratrol is an unstable compound on its own Special care has to be taken to preserve it for example by packing it into airtight capsules unfer a nitrogen atmosphere o These products do have an effect on human cells in culture but there is no evidence that they work in animals let alone in humansOut of Harvard molecular biologist Dr David Sinclair and his colleagues have found a way to increase lifespan at least for yeasts by feeding them red wine But what works for yeast might work for humans because it seems that we also have a version of the gene that allows yeasts to live longer when exposed to red wineYeast is good to work with to study aging because they are easy to work with in the lab and have relatively short life cycles As early as 1991 some researchers discovered that some yeasts lived longer than others But they did not know why o This was answered by Dr Leonard Guarente of MIT who found that the longlived yeasts produced an enzyme called sirtuin which has the ability to repair damaged DNAo The gene that codes for this enzyme SIR2 silent information regulator becomes more active when yeast cells are deprived of nutrients Other evidence shows that yeast monkeys rodents and fruit flies all live longer when put on a calorierestricted dietThis could be evolutionarily beneficial when food is in short supply reproduction is difficult and organisms need to live longer so as to postpone breeding until conditions improve o Research shows that humans who eat roughly 30 fewer calories than generally recommended live longer than averageSo researchers began trying to find out what could activate this enzyme They did this by systematically examining chemicals that could possibly increase enzyme activityo Resveratrol performed very well mimicking the effect of calorie restriction
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