A compound commonly found in red wine, chocolate, and peanuts may have a benefit for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, according to results from a phase 2 study.
Researchers from Georgetown University conducted a placebo-controlled, double-blind study to establish the effectiveness of resveratrol, which is known to activate sirtuins. In previous animal studies, activation of sirtuins by caloric restriction appeared to prevent or delay age-related disease like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The study included 119 participants, 50% of which received resveratrol 500 mg orally once daily for one year. Resveratrol dosage was increased in 500 mg increments every 13 weeks, ending with 1,000 mg twice daily. Brain MRI and cerebrospinal fluid was collected from participants at baseline and after completion of treatment.
Upon completion of the treatment cycle, resveratrol was detected in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid, proving that it penetrated the blood-brain barrier. Cerebrospinal fluid levels of Aβ40 and plasma Aβ40 declined more in participants who took placebo compared to those who took resveratrol, with the differences significant by week 52.
“A decrease in Aβ40 is seen as dementia worsens and Alzheimer’s disease progresses; still, we can’t conclude from this study that the effects of resveratrol treatment are beneficial,” researcher R. Scott Turner, MD, PhD, said. “It does appear that resveratrol was able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, which is an important observation.”
However, brain volume loss was greater in the resveratrol group than those who took placebo. This finding was a bit confounding; however Turner said that similar decreases in brain volume have been observed during some anti-amyloid immunotherapy trials. Overall, resveratrol was safe and well-tolerated, with the most common adverse effects being nausea, diarrhea, and weight loss.
The researchers now plan to begin a phase 3 trial to evaluate the compound’s effectiveness in Alzheimer’s patients.