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Activation of Stress Response May Explain Health Benefits of Resveratrol

Resveratrol is the compound found in red wine that has been associated with numerous health benefits for years, with some people even referring to it as an “elixir of youth.” A recent study has discovered that those health benefits may be due to the fact that resveratrol activates an evolutionarily ancient stress response in humans.

Plants (including grapes, cacao beans, and Japanese knotweed) produce resveratrol in response to stresses such as infection, drought, and ultraviolet radiation.

The researchers for this study were originally focusing on a family of enzymes called tRNA synthetases. They noted that a specific tRNA synthese called TyRS can move to the cell nucleus when it’s under stress. They also noted that resveratrol had similar stress responses and that it resembled TyRS’s normal binding partner tyrosine.

In this study, the researchers combined TyRS and resveratrol and conducted X-ray crystallography to find that resveratrol does mimic tyrosine by binding with TyRS. The TyRS enzyme then moves away from its role in protein translation and instead goes to stress response in the cell nucleus.

The resveratrol-bound TyRS enzyme grabs and activates the protein PARP-1, which helps with stress response and DNA repair. Previous studies have found that PARP-1 may have an influence on lifespan. The activated PARP-1 also activated other protective genes in mice, including the gene p53 (which suppresses tumors) and the genes FOXO3A and SIRT6 (which are associated with longevity).

The researchers found that doses as low as a glass or two of wine could potentially activate the TyRS-PARP-1 pathway.

Researchers from the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at TSRI conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on December 22, 2014, in the journal Nature.

Previous studies have shown resveratrol to be a powerful antioxidant with health benefits that include increasing energy levels, improving brain health, reducing the appearance of aging, improving metabolism, and improving liver function.

This antioxidant can be found in red wine, grapes, grape seed extract, and peanuts. A glass of red wine a day can provide a good amount of resveratrol, but excess drinking may counter balance the positive health benefits. Another good way to get resveratrol is through a high quality supplement.

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