A study from Georgetown University has found that people suffering from mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease who took large doses of resveratrol, the polyphenolic compound found in red wine and other foods, maintained higher levels of a protein called amyloid-beta 40. The scientists are excited by the findings because amyloid-beta 40 is a key biomarker for doctors monitoring Alzheimer’s patients. It declines as Alzheimer’s advances, thus the study suggests that resveratrol may help slow the disease’s progression.
Dr. Scott Turner, director of Georgetown’s memory disorders program, and his team published the study in September in the journal Neurology. For their research, they monitored 119 people, all suffering from some form of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s and ranging in age from 50 to 70 years old. Some subjects took concentrated capsules of resveratrol, while others took a placebo.
After one year, those taking resveratrol displayed a smaller decline in amyloid-beta 40. After one year, the resveratrol group’s baseline amyloid-beta 40 levels fell by less than 1 percent, while the placebo group’s levels fell by more than 14.3 percent.
The study did require a hefty dose of resveratrol, however. In wine terms it would require raiding your cellar and drinking about 1,000 bottles of wine per day. Patients took a concentrated pill form, up to 2,000 mg a day toward the end of the trial, and showed no adverse effects compared to those who took the placebo.
What this study effectively shows is that resveratrol can stabilize this biomarker, and therefore could stabilize Alzheimer’s symptoms. Dr. Turner noted in the study that it’s not clear whether resveratrol can have a direct, long-term impact on the disease, but its effect on amyloid-beta 40 certainly holds promise for future research. The next phase of the study will expand it to a larger group and address the cognitive effects of taking such a dose of resveratrol.