The finding, believed to be the first of its kind, was presented today to some 14,000 scientists and others gathered at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.
The researchers say this report — based on studies of laboratory mice — could lead to the development of natural products designed to help older Americans live safer and more productive lives.
"Our study suggests that a natural compound like resveratrol, which can be obtained either through dietary supplementation or diet itself, could actually decrease some of the motor deficiencies that are seen in our aging population," said Jane E. Cavanaugh, Ph.D., leader of the research team. "And that would, therefore, increase an aging person's quality of life and decrease their risk of hospitalization due to slips and falls."
Cavanaugh notes that falls become more common with advancing age and are the leading cause of injury-related death among people older than 65. In addition, about one in three older Americans have difficulty with balance or walking, according to the American Geriatrics Society.
These mobility problems are particularly common among older people who have Parkinson's disease and other age-related neurological disorders, Cavanagh said. She is with Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. However, while drugs can help alleviate some of the motor-related problems in Parkinson's disease, Cavanaugh points out that there are no comparable treatments for balance and walking problems in otherwise healthy older adults. She and her colleagues set out to rectify that, focusing on natural chemical compounds such as resveratrol.
Previous studies have shown that resveratrol — an antioxidant found in red wine and dark-skinned fruits — might help reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, slash the risk of heart disease and certain cancers and, perhaps, have some anti-aging effects in the body. Resveratrol is available as a dietary supplement and is abundant in foods such as red grapes, blueberries and nuts.
To determine its effects on balance and mobility, Cavanaugh, Erika N. Allen and colleagues fed young and old laboratory mice a diet containing resveratrol for eight weeks. They periodically tested the rodents' ability to navigate a steel mesh balance beam, counting the number of times that each mouse took a misstep. Initially, the older mice had more difficulty maneuvering on the obstacle. But by week four, the older mice made far fewer missteps and were on par with the young mice.
While it is unclear how resveratrol works in the body, Cavanagh's team found some clues. In laboratory experiments, they exposed neural cells to a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which in large amounts can induce cell death. However, neurons treated with resveratrol before being exposed to dopamine survived. On closer examination, the researchers found that resveratrol mitigated the damage done by oxygen free radicals, generated by the breakdown of the dopamine, and activated protein signaling pathways that appeared to promote cell survival.
Although she is encouraged by the results, Cavanaugh notes that resveratrol does have some drawbacks. For instance, it is poorly absorbed by the body. In fact, she calculates that a 150-pound person would have to drink almost 700 4-ounce glasses of red wine a day to absorb enough resveratrol to get any beneficial effects. That's why she and her colleagues are investigating similar man-made compounds that mimic the effects of resveratrol and might be more bioavailable to the body. They're also trying to determine how much resveratrol actually enters the brain.
Nevertheless, the researchers suspect that even if the effects of resveratrol in the brain are minute, this small margin could potentially be enough to help older people remain steady on their feet and avoid taking serious tumbles.
The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 164,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.
To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note to journalists: Please report that this research was presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.
As the population over 65 increases, the incidence of age-related injuries will rise. Currently, there are few therapeutic regimens for age-related motor deficits. Resveratrol is a phytoalexin that has been shown to improve motor function in aged mice. To examine the effect of resveratrol or resveratrol analogs on motor function in vivo, mice (2, 10 and 22 months) were fed resveratrol or pinostilbene containing diet for 8 weeks. Motor function was examined using a challenge beam test and a cylinder test. To investigate the mechanisms that may underlie a reversal of motor deficits, dopamine (DA) and dopamine metabolite levels were examined in all groups and dopaminergic cells were treated with resveratrol or resveratrol analogs +/- DA. Additionally, dopaminergic cells were analyzed for ERK1/2 and ERK5 activation. Resveratrol and pinostilbene protected dopaminergic cells from DA-induced cell death. This research may lead to novel therapies for age-related motor deficits using natural compounds.
Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!
Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland
Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy