12 January - 20 June 2016

Research shows that a compound in red wine may prevent memory loss

26 February 2015

Resveratrol, a phenolic phytoalexin found in the skin of red grapes, red wine, peanuts and berries, has shown an ability to improve cognitive memory in aged rats. It is thought that it encourages the growth of new cells and neurons in the hippocampus as well as lowering cholesterol and the risk of coronary heart disease. With the hippocampus being the part of the brain that is responsible for learning, memory and mood, this could be a step in the right direction to decelerate the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease and memory loss associated with old age.

The study, carried out at the Texas A&M Institute of Regenerative Medicine, involved two groups of male rats of middle-late age (23 months) that were given either resveratrol (RSEV) or a control vehicle (VEH) by intraperitoneal injection. Before the study began the rats were trained to locate a submerged platform and had their ability to make new spatial memories assessed through a Water Maze Test (WMT). The study took place over 8 weeks; 4 weeks on the resveratrol and 4 weeks off and the rats were assessed on their ability to complete the tasks conducted at the beginning of the trial. The neurogenesis of the rats was also examined by injecting the rats with 5′-bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU)to label the newly born cells and neurons prior to post-mortem examination of the brains. It was found that both groups did not have any large changes in their ability to remember the position of the platform however the RSEV groups showed significantly greater ability to make new spatial memories during the WMT.

The RSEV group also showed an increase in neurogenesis, which is the growth and development of neurons, and is linked to the hippocampus’ ability to make new memories. The group also had an increase in microvasculature which is linked to improved blood flow to the brain and reduces inflammation in the hippocampus. These results are highly positive and show that resveratrol could be the key to reducing the onset of memory loss associated with ageing.

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