Data published in the Journal of Food Science indicated that resveratrol appeared to increase the production of regulatory T cells (Tregs), which play a key role in modulating the immune system.
“Supplementation with resveratrol stimulated mitochondrial biogenesis and restored mitochondrial functional activities of Tregs,” added researchers from the School of Food Science and Technology at Jiangnan University in China. “These beneficial resveratrol-induced changes in mitochondrial biogenesis are consistent with the previous studies, in which resveratrol increased the number of mitochondria, shifted the physiology of mice on a [high fat diet] towards that of mice on a standard diet and significantly increased their survival.”
Commenting on the practical implications of the study’s findings, the researchers said: “Resveratrol protected Tregs against high-fat diet-induced apoptosis by reducing oxidative stress, restoring mitochondrial functional activities, and stimulating mitochondrial biogenesis. The results provide a potential interventional strategy for controlling oxidative stress and inflammatory response by supplementing resveratrol.”
Mitochondria and aging
It’s already well known that the function of mitochondria declines with age, while aging is a known risk factor for a number of common age-related and neurodegenerative disorders. This led researchers to propose that secondary mitochondrial dysfunction may lead to degenerative diseases.
A role for oxidative stress has been proposed to promote mitochondrial dysfunction, leading researchers to examine if antioxidants such as CoQ10, and vitamins C and E may play a role. For example, San Francisco-based Edison Pharmaceuticals has been exploring the potential of redox control and mitochondrial function using a vitamin E derivative (alpha-tocotrienol quinone).
Other nutrients and compounds being investigated for their potential ability to enhance mitochondrial function include resveratrol and nicotinamide riboside, a form of vitamin B3.
Resveratrol is a powerful polyphenol and anti-fungal chemical that is often touted as the bioactive compound in grapes and red wine. Interest in the compound exploded in 2003 when research from David Sinclair and his team from Harvard reported that resveratrol was able to increase the lifespan of yeast cells. According to Sinclair’s findings, resveratrol could activate a gene called sirtuin1 (Sirt1 – the yeast equivalent was Sir2), which is also activated during calorie restriction in various species, including monkeys.
Other studies with only resveratrol have reported other benefits, including supporting heart health, blood sugar management, and energy endurance enhancement.
For the new study, the China-based researchers investigated how resveratrol may reverse the damaging effects of a high-fat diet, which has been linked to increased levels of oxidative stress and mitochondria dysfunction in many organs.
Lab mice were fed a high fat diet for 20 weeks with or without supplemental resveratrol (0.06%). Results showed that the animals fed the high-fat diet only had high levels of Tregs cell death, but this was significantly decreased in the animals who also received supplemental resveratrol.
In addition, resveratrol was associated with an increase in the expression of factors that controlled mitochondria production in Tregs.
“Our study was limited because resveratrol was given concurrently with the development of oxidative stress and chronic inflammation induced by [high-fat diet], thereby preventing the development of this condition,” wrote the researchers. “Animal studies that aim to examine the potential of resveratrol in the treatment of [high-fat diet]-induced obesity are ongoing in our lab.”
Source: Journal of Food Science
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.12555
“Resveratrol Preserves Mitochondrial Function, Stimulates Mitochondrial Biogenesis, and Attenuates Oxidative Stress in Regulatory T Cells of Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet”
Authors: B. Wang, J. Sun, Y. Ma, G. Wu, Y. Tian, Y. Shi, G. Le