Did you know that Atherosclerosis is reversible? I bet your doctor has not mentioned that to you the last time you saw him for a check up. However, a recent editorial about resveratrol that appeared in the recent issue of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. Just as astonishingly, the editorial was written by a renowned immunologist, Linda K. Curtiss, PhD, of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. The fact that an immunologist is writing about cardiovascular disease in a trend-setting medical journal speaks volumes about how far we have come in our understanding of chronic diseases and their relationships with inflammation, which is an immune system phenomenon. What truly sets Dr. Curtiss’s article apart, though, is her description of a dramatic new phenomenon mediated by the grape polyphenol resveratrol.
Curtis’s excitement comes from work done by Cleveland Clinic cell biologist Young-Mi Park, MD, who waant stress and inflammation on the pathogenesis, or disease-causing mechanisms, of atherosclerosis.68 Knowins exploring the role of oxidg that fat-laden inflammatory cells called foam-cell macrophages trigger inflammation when they become trapped beneath the lining of blood vessels,69-72 Park’s team sought to understand why the cells become trapped, and how they could be freed from their “endothelial bondage,” thereby reversing the inflammatory process.
The most natural approach to take, Park’s group decided, was simply to test known antioxidants’ ability to prevent the foam cells from migrating into the endothelial lining in the first place, and their ability to release any cells that were already present.68 Specifically, they studied how oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) promotes foam-cell formation and impairs migration. To do this they blocked LDL oxidation with several potent antioxidants. They found that oxidized LDL actually triggered production of a sort of cellular “glue” in the form of filaments of actin, one of the proteins also found in muscle tissue. The actin filaments were entangling the foam cells, preventing their natural migration out of the endothelial lining, leading to progressive inflammatory changes.
Park’s group chose resveratrol as one of the two antioxidants to test—another testimony to the respect that mainstream researchers are according this remarkable molecule (the other was N-acetylcysteine, also an antioxidant available in supplement form).68 Resveratrol treatment of the foam cells inhibited production of reactive oxygen species by greater than 90%, an important first step in breaking the cycle. Even more impressively, resveratrol partially restored the foam cells’ ability to move out of the entangling actin filaments, and migrate away from the endothelial lining!
This brings us back to Dr. Curtiss’s astounding initial observation that atherosclerosis is a reversible condition—through the use of powerful antioxidants such as resveratrol, we can now understand how oxidized LDL contributes to invasion of endothelium by inflammatory cells, and how prevention or reversal of LDL oxidation promotes mobilization of inflammatory cells and their emigration away from vessel linings.
As Dr. Park concluded, “[these studies] also provide additional mechanistic support for the atheroprotective effect of antioxidants.”68 Resveratrol is already well-known as a cardiovascular protective supplement—the work of Park and others is now showing us that resveratrol must also be considered a valuable cardiovascular therapeutic supplement, one that can literally “turn back the clock” on chronic vascular diseases of aging!
Unfortunately not all resveratrol products are equal. Many companies have jumped on the reseveratrol band wagon only to create a resveratrol product that does little if anything for the consumer’s health. Shaklee Corporation spent years in bring a product called Vivix to market. They sought the best minds in resveratrol research like Dr. David Sinclair from Harvard as well as involving the University of Georgia in the manufacturing process to bring the best and most potent product to the market.
To find out why Vivix is different than other resveratrol type products see this post.