Research unravels mechanisms of beneficial components in red wine

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Research unravels mechanisms of beneficial components in red wine

Related tags Red wine Resveratrol Wine Heart disease

Both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic compounds in red wine have separate and potentially beneficial or protective effects that could reduce the risk of heart disease, say researchers.

A new randomised trial of red wine – published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition​ – reveals that both the alcoholic ethanol component and non-alcoholic phenolic compounds have anti-inflammatory effects that could contribute to the so called ‘French paradox’. The French paradox is observation that that French people suffer a relatively low incidence of heart disease, despite having a diet relatively rich in saturated fats – this has been speculated to be due to higher consumption of red wine, which contains several potentially beneficial compounds such as resveratrol.

Researchers, led by Gemma Chiva-Blanch from the University of Barcelona, Spain, investigated the effects of different red wine components in a randomised crossover trial – finding that different components have different effects on inflammatory molecules.

“The phenolic content of red wine may modulate leukocyte adhesion molecules, whereas both ethanol and polyphenols of red wine may modulate soluble inflammatory mediators in patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease,”​ revealed Chiva-Blanch and her colleagues.

The authors explained that the study provides important new mechanistic evidence that the reduced risk of cardiovascular disease among red wine drinkers observed in most epidemiologic studies may result from a combination of both the alcohol and the polyphenols in the wine.

Research highlights

The researchers included 67 male volunteers in Spain who were considered to be at "high-risk"​ of cardiovascular disease on the basis of increased BMI, smoking, diabetes, hypertension, or other risk factors. Around half of the participants were taking ACE inhibitors, statins, aspirin, or oral hypoglycemic drugs, thus making the results of the study relevant for patients in the real world.

The 67 high-risk males were given red wine (containing ethanol and polyphenols), and equivalent amount of dealcoholised red wine (containing just polyphenols), and gin (just alcohol) in a randomized, crossover consumption trial – before and after each trial, seven cellular and 18 serum inflammatory biomarkers were evaluated.

Chiva-Blanch and her team found that the alcohol only trial (gin) increased levels of interleukin-10 and decreased other inflammatory markers such as macrophage-derived chemokine concentrations. Phenolic compounds only (dealcoholised red wine) was found to decrease serum concentrations of other inflammatory mediators – including intercellular adhesion molecule-1, E-selectin, and interleukin-6.

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.3945/​ajcn.111.022889
“Differential effects of polyphenols and alcohol of red wine on the expression of adhesion molecules and inflammatory cytokines related to atherosclerosis: a randomized clinical trial”
Authors: G. Chiva-Blanch, M. Urpi-Sarda, R. Llorach, M. Rotches-Ribalta, M. Guillén, et al

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