It’s long been held that the benefits of red wine, drinking a glass each day, can provide physical benefits to your cardiovascular health and help to ward off a variety of heart diseases.
Much more recently, it was discovered that red wine contains resveratrol, a compound many scientists believe capable of improving overall health and extending life, perhaps by as many as 10 or even 20 years.
Unfortunately, the levels of resveratrol in red wine are actually extremely minimal, meaning that you’d need to consume about 1,000 bottles per day in order to see any significant benefits. Of course, doing so would leave you with far more health problems than resveratrol could ever cure (not to mention the fact that it’s physically impossible).
The good news is that a new study is indicating that the same benefits provided by a large dose of resveratrol may already be available in the form of drugs known as PDE4 inhibitors, also known as phosphodiesterase type 4 inhibitors. Although the study involved mice, researchers are hopeful that the results will transfer to humans.
Regulating Blood Sugar, Preventing Obesity
The study, which was conducted by researchers at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute‘s Laboratory of Obesity and Aging Research, sought to discover how resveratrol interacts with cells. Contrary to their predictions, they discovered that resveratrol inhibits the PDE4 protein, making it a PDE4 inhibitor.
Interestingly, PDE4 inhibitors have already been developed and are currently being tested for their efficacy in treating Alzheimer’s disease. As such, the researchers decided to test one such PDE4 inhibitor, rolipram, on mice. They discovered that rolipram offered all of the same benefits as resveratrol, including helping to regulate blood sugar and preventing obesity that stems from dietary factors.
PDE4 Inhibitors: Less Toxic than Resveratrol?
According to Dr. Jay Chung, the lead researcher behind the new study, resveratrol could be extremely useful in the battle against diseases such as diabetes. However, realizing these health benefits would require a person to drink roughly 1,000 bottles of red wine every single day.
Chung said that this is no longer an area of concern because PDE4 inhibitors can replicate these effects in drug form. In fact, Chung believes that PDE4 inhibitors are actually much less toxic than resveratrol because they only inhibit the PDE4 protein, while resveratrol interacts with several different proteins.
Roflumilast, a different PDE4 inhibitor, has already received FDA approval for treating individuals with COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The National Institutes of Health states that this drug has a list of common side effects including dizziness, nausea and diarrhea.
New Directions for Research
Philippe Marambaud, a researcher specializing in Alzheimer’s disease at Manhasset, New York’s Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, described the new findings as a “huge step forward” in understand the biological power of resveratrol. Marambaud believes that researchers should now begin to examine how resveratrol effects diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Marambaud cautioned, however, that any study involving mice needs to be replicated in humans before it can be fully accepted in the scientific community. He said that future studies should also confirm that resveratrol actually inhibits the PDE4 protein.
Marambaud also said that research should continue on both resveratrol and PDE4 inhibitors separately, despite the fact that the two appear to have similar effects so far. Dr. Chung is already planning a new study that will examine how rolipram affects obese individuals with insulin resistance.
PDE4 Inhibitors: The Bottom Line
Although resveratrol is perhaps one of the most beneficial and powerful compounds found in red wine, its concentrations are so low that you would need to drink about a thousand bottles of vino in a single day to generate any significant benefits.
Fortunately, scientists have discovered that existing drugs known as PDE4 inhibitors may produce the exact same effects as a large dose of resveratrol, which include blood sugar regulation, obesity prevention and perhaps even life extension.
The full text of the study is available today in the medical journal Cell.