Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Red Wine's Health Benefits May Be Due In Part To "Estrogen" In Grape Skin

Date:
December 19, 1997
Source:
Northwestern University
Summary:
Researchers at Northwestern University Medical School have found that a chemical in red wine believed to help reduce risk for heart disease is a form of estrogen. The substance, resveratrol, is highly concentrated in the skin of grapes and is abundant in red wine.

CHICAGO --- Researchers at Northwestern University Medical School have found that a chemical in red wine believed to help reduce risk for heart disease is a form of estrogen. The substance, resveratrol, is highly concentrated in the skin of grapes and is abundant in red wine.

Related Articles


Moderate consumption of red wine has been widely reported to reduce risk for cardiovascular disease. Some researchers have attributed this cardioprotective quality to the significant amounts of resveratrol naturally present in grape skin.

Resveratrol protects grapes and some other plants against fungal infections. It has been shown previously to have a number of potentially beneficial properties, including antioxidant, anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.

Resveratrol has a molecular structure similar to that of diethylstilbestrol, a synthetic estrogen. This prompted Barry D. Gehm, J. Larry Jameson, M.D., and colleagues at Northwestern to investigate whether resveratrol might have pharmacologic properties similar to those of estradiol, the major natural human estrogen.

As reported in the Dec. 9 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group's laboratory studies showed that resveratrol is estrogenic. (Specifically, it is a phytoestrogen, from the Greek word for "plant.") At concentrations similar to those required for its other biological effects, resveratrol activated expression of both artificially introduced "reporter" genes and naturally occurring estrogen-regulated genes in cultured human cells.

The researchers also found that resveratrol could replace estradiol in supporting the proliferation of certain breast cancer cells that require estrogen for growth.

"Estrogen" is not a specific compound but a category of substances defined by their biological effect. Originally named for their ability to induce estrus ("going into heat") in animals, estrogens act on cells by binding to a protein called estrogen receptor, which then causes certain genes to be expressed, or "turned on." In addition to the body's sex hormones, a number of other natural and artificial estrogens are known.

In studying gene expression, many laboratories use artificial reporter genes. The reporter gene used in these studies is the gene for the enzyme luciferase, which makes fireflies light up. It was connected to a piece of DNA that the estrogen receptor "recognizes." When this reporter gene was put into cells, luciferase production increased in those treated with estrogen. Then, when mixed with certain chemicals, the enzyme was measured easily by the light it gave off.

In some cells, resveratrol caused more expression of the reporter gene than estradiol. This was surprising, Gehm said, since estradiol has always been thought to produce maximal activation of the estrogen receptor. The group found that the most effective dose of resveratrol produced two to four times more light as the most effective dose of estradiol. However, estradiol is effective at much lower doses.

"The estrogenic properties of resveratrol may play a role in the beneficial cardiovascular effects of red wine and the so-called 'French paradox,'" Gehm said.

Estrogen is known to provide some protection against heart disease, and red wine also appears to. Their specific effects are similar, most notably, increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the "good cholesterol." This effect of red wine may be mediated by resveratrol.

But Gehm cautioned that it is not yet known if the body absorbs enough resveratrol from wine to make this plausible. The same can be said of resveratrol's other effects, described earlier.

Some researchers have previously suggested that it would be beneficial to supplement people's diets with resveratrol because of its anticarcinogenic and anti-arteriosclerotic properties.

"The discovery that resveratrol is estrogenic means that such supplementation might have undesirable side effects," Gehm said.

Nevertheless, the observation that reseveratrol produces greater expression of some estrogen-regulated genes than estradiol may ultimately lead to the development of new, more selective estrogenic drugs. Selective estrogens currently available are used in the treatment of breast cancer (tamoxifen) and postmenopausal osteoporosis (raloxifene).

Barry D. Gehm is a research assistant professor of medicine; J. Larry Jameson, M.D., is the C. F. Kettering Professor of Medicine and chief of endocrinology at Northwestern University Medical School. Also collaborating on this study were Joanne M. McAndrews and Pei-Yu Chien.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Northwestern University. "Red Wine's Health Benefits May Be Due In Part To "Estrogen" In Grape Skin." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 December 1997. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/12/971219062019.htm>.
Northwestern University. (1997, December 19). Red Wine's Health Benefits May Be Due In Part To "Estrogen" In Grape Skin. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/12/971219062019.htm
Northwestern University. "Red Wine's Health Benefits May Be Due In Part To "Estrogen" In Grape Skin." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/12/971219062019.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dads-To-Be Also Experience Hormone Changes During Pregnancy

Dads-To-Be Also Experience Hormone Changes During Pregnancy

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) A study from University of Michigan researchers found that expectant fathers see a decrease in testosterone as the baby's birth draws near. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins