5 Evidence-Based Benefits Of Dietary Resveratrol For Parkinson’s Disease

Shruti Baikerikar

(B.E. Biotechnology, PG Clinical Research)
Independent Researcher, Health Writer & Founder of Salubrainous [Full Bio]

resveratrol for parkinson

Name: Resveratrol, Grape antioxidants
Goes well with: Curcumin, Quercetin, Piperine, Green tea catechins
Number of scientific references: 34
Level of Evidence: Level I What is this?

Note: Resveratrol benefits in Parkinson’s disease by reducing alpha-synuclein accumulation and protecting dopaminergic neurons from degeneration. It reduces mitochondrial dysfunction, protects from inflammation and oxidative stress and activates genes that protect brain health.

These findings are yet to be validated in human studies. Dietary resveratrol can help in Parkinson’s disease prevention.

As we age our risks of neurodegeneration increase and make the brain cells susceptible to damage.

Parkinson’s disease manifests as a result of the loss of dopaminergic neurons (neurons releasing hormone dopamine). The patient experiences symptoms like shaking, rigidity, memory loss, cognitive dysfunction and behavioural deficits.

Currently, there are no absolute treatments available for neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s.

However dietary and lifestyle changes help prevent the disease and slow down its progression.

While working on identifying the much-needed cure for Parkinson’s disease, researchers have stumbled upon a very fascinating dietary component which is the active ingredient of grapes and red wine called Resveratrol.

Resveratrol is a potent natural antioxidant. It is also known to affect multiple targets at once on supplementation making it a potential candidate as a natural alternative for neurodegenerative diseases. [1]

Pre-clinical research shows that resveratrol helps in Parkinson’s disease by protecting dopaminergic neurons and reducing alpha-synuclein accumulation. It boosts antioxidant defences in the brain and can help prevent Parkinson’s disease.

These findings are yet to be validated by clinical trials.

5 Evidence-Based Benefits Of Dietary Resveratrol For Parkinson’s Disease

Immense evidence is available supporting the promising effects of Resveratrol in preventing and treating symptoms associated with Parkinson’s. But these findings are yet to confirmed in humans.

Let us have a look at them in detail.

1.Resveratrol targets mitochondrial dysfunction and relieves oxidative damage in the brain

Mitochondrial dysfunction and increased oxidative stress are major factors underlying Parkinson’s disease pathology.

Mitochondria are energy-producing units of the cells. They are involved in cellular respiration and are responsible for maintaining antioxidant defences.

Both of these factors result in considerable damage and cause disease progression. [2]

Mitochondrial dysfunction results in impaired metabolism or use of energy by neurons.

Dietary changes are known to alleviate oxidative stress and associated impaired mitochondrial activity.

One such dietary compound is resveratrol.

According to a research study conducted by Ferretta et al., resveratrol improves energy metabolism by regulating proteins involved in increasing mitochondrial mass and number to produce greater energy for brain cells to function.

Being a natural phenolic, the compound possesses the inbuilt potential to reduce oxidative stress.

Researchers suggested that resveratrol could help attenuate mitochondrial dysfunction and benefit patients with early onset of Parkinson’s disease. [3]

By minimizing mitochondrial dysfunction, resveratrol can help protect brain cells from cell death and halt or prevent neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease. (Neuroscience Letters, 2017) [4]

Nanophytomedicine is an emerging field which aims to convert potential bioactive compounds from plants into nanoscale formulations to achieve maximum health benefits.

Findings show that incorporation of resveratrol in nanosized formulations helps overcome the challenges of utilising bioactive compounds for improving brain health. [5]

The formulation crosses the protective blood-brain barrier and reaches the brain producing maximum efficiency and stability.

Its anti-oxidant potential helps in considerable reduction of oxidative stress in the brain cells.

Pangeni and colleagues have developed a nanoemulsion loaded with Vitamin E and resveratrol to target neurons experiencing oxidative damage in Parkinson’s. [6]

This nanoemulsion improves anti-oxidant enzyme levels and reaches brain tissue at high concentrations when delivered intranasally (via the nose).

In an animal model of Parkinson’s disease, resveratrol nanoparticles are found to attenuate mitochondrial dysfunction, brain degeneration and behavioural deficits better than free resveratrol. [7]

PGC-1 alpha is a protein that regulates mitochondrial energy metabolism. Its activation can help reduce mitochondrial dysfunction and prevent Parkinson’s disease.

Resveratrol enhances expression of genes encoding this protein thereby improving energy metabolism in dopaminergic neurons and offering neuroprotection against Parkinson’s. [8]

Quick Gist: Resveratrol is a promising natural bioactive for treatment and prevention of Parkinson’s disease. It mitigates mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress in the brain and lowers neurodegeneration and disease progression.

Resveratrol nanoparticles are emerging as a potential therapeutic agent for Parkinson’s disease.

2.Resveratrol protects dopaminergic cells and prevents motor symptoms

Dopaminergic neurons are brain cells are the main source of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Dopamine is involved in multiple aspects of brain function such as aiding decision-making, maintaining motivation and assisting our movement.

Degeneration of these neurons results in neurological disorders and it is the major pathological feature of Parkinson’s disease. [9]

Research studies indicate that resveratrol protects dopaminergic neurons from damage and related motor dysfunctions.

It reduces oxidative stress and increases dopamine levels to reduce motor and behavioural changes in Parkinson’s disease. [10] [11]

It also enhances autophagy, which is a process of dealing with cellular damage and helps get rid of damaged brain cells to curb inflammation. [12]

Now another mechanism that is targeted in Parkinson’s therapy is inhibiting the accumulation of alpha-synuclein in dopaminergic neurons. Reducing accumulation of these proteins can help prevent Parkinson’s.

Guo et al. demonstrated that resveratrol administration provokes degradation of accumulated alpha-synuclein proteins in the dopaminergic neurons. [13]

Increase in iron levels in dopaminergic neurons renders them susceptible to damage and death.

A study was published in Neuroreport, 2017 showed that resveratrol protects dopaminergic cells from cell death by reducing iron levels. [14]

Beta-cyclodextrin is a compound made from sugar molecules which are commonly used in drug delivery systems to enhance the bioavailability of the drug.

Combination of resveratrol with beta-cyclodextrin is found to degrade alpha-synuclein accumulation and may serve as a potential therapeutic for Parkinson’s disease. [15]

Sources suggest that first phase clinical trials assesing the effect of trans-resveratrol have been completed, but the results are yet awaited.

Quick Gist: Research findings suggest that resveratrol protects dopaminergic neurons and reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease. It improves cellular energy metabolism and cell survival and viability.

These findings are yet to be evaluated further in human studies.

3.It reduces inflammation in the brain

Chronic inflammation of neurons results in their degeneration. Researchers have investigated resveratrol’s anti-inflammatory potential as well.

Resveratrol influences the expression of genes that suppress the action of pro-inflammatory mediators and thus reduces inflammation in the brain in Parkinson’s disease. [16]

Sirtuin 1 is a protein that has a neuroprotective role. It regulates cellular energy metabolism and protects from cell death and cell damage in the body.

Studies investigating the role of this protein have revealed that brain cells exposed to an inflammatory environment remained protected from damage and death in the presence of Sirtuin proteins. [17]

Interestingly, one of the core mechanisms by which resveratrol mediates its therapeutic effects is by regulating genes that encode Sirtuin protein. [18]

NADPH oxidase is an enzyme complex that regulates the production of reactive oxygen species. While these reactive oxygen species participate in various cellular functions, an excess of these leads to oxidative damage and inflammation.

Zhang et al. have shown that resveratrol inhibits NADPH oxidase activity to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain and offers neuroprotection. [19]

Quick Gist: Increased level of pro-inflammatory agents accelerates degeneration of brain cells in Parkinson’s disease.

Resveratrol activates anti-inflammatory genes and lowers oxidative damage to curb inflammation in the brain.

4.It offers neuroprotection

Alpha-synuclein is a protein whose excess production and accumulation in the brain play a role in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease.

DNA and RNA are major constituents of our genetic material. Micro RNAs are tiny RNA molecule that can switch a gene on/off.

Wang and colleagues have observed that resveratrol reduces alpha-synuclein accumulation by increasing the activity of micro RNA-214.

Increase in micro RNA-2014 is found to decrease the production of alpha-synuclein. [20]

The antioxidant also activates genes that suppress inflammation and protects from neuroinflammation in Parkinson’s disease. [21]

Cytochrome P450 is an important enzyme in the human body as it regulates drug metabolism in the body.

Thus it can influence the metabolism of anti-Parkinson’s drugs as well as that of Parkinson’s causing toxins. [22]

Researchers are trying to understand whether the mutations in the genes encoding Cytochrome P450 can increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s or protect from it.

Srivastava et al. have shown that resveratrol influences the expression of genes coding for Cytochrome P450 enzymes and reverses neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease. [23]

Estrogen is a hormone that carries out a host of cellular functions and actively maintains female reproductive health. Phytoestrogens are estrogen derived from plants.

Resveratrol is a phytoestrogen found in grapes that has neuroprotective action as well.

Researchers suggest that resveratrol’s estrogenic action can help protect the brain from Parkinson’s disease. [24]

Other modes of action by which resveratrol confers neuroprotection in Parkinson’s disease are:

  • Reducing inflammation [25]
  • Influencing levels of neurotrophic factors (that promote development and survival of brain cells) [26]
  • Inducing autophagy- a process that helps clear damaged cells and prevents further degeneration of cells [27]

Quick Gist: Resveratrol offers protection to the brain and the nervous system and prevents degeneration.

Research suggests that resveratrol prevents alpha-synuclein accumulation and activates genes that improve survival of brain cells and thus protect from Parkinson’s.

5.Resveratrol can prevent Parkinson’s disease

It is a fascinating fact that resveratrol not only aids in Parkinson’s disease treatment but also can help in its prevention.

Dietary oxyresveratrol (derived from resveratrol and present in mulberry) is identified as a potential nutritional component that can protect from Parkinson’s disease. [28]

According to researchers the first preventive action presented by resveratrol is its anti-ageing potential. Increasing age is identified as a risk factor for Parkinson’s disease.

Resveratrol delays the process of cellular ageing by reducing free radicals and activating genes that boost antioxidant effect. [29]

Pinostilbene is a modified product obtained from resveratrol that is said to have a wider neuroprotective action than resveratrol.

Their combination is found to reduce age-related decline in our capacity to move and perform physical activity. They protect dopaminergic neurons. [30]

Another potential cause of Parkinson’s disease is exposure to toxic agents that harm brain cells and cause their degeneration.

Clinical investigations published in Molecular Neurobiology, 2016 revealed that resveratrol fights such neurotoxicity.

It exerts protective mechanisms like reduction in oxidative stress, inhibition of abnormal cell death, bolstering immune defences and lowering mitochondrial dysfunction. [31]

The SIRT 1 pathway regulates the synthesis of the Sirtuin protein which is known to protect brain cells.

Rasouri et al. suggested the potential use of resveratrol to control the SIRT 1 pathway and Sirtuin proteins helps combat neurotoxicity and prevent neurodegeneration. [32] [33]

Estrogen in our body can get converted into cancer-causing metabolites. These metabolites react with DNA to form a compound called estrogen-DNA adduct.

These adducts cause mutations that would lead to cancer development. Researchers have observed that these adducts are present in high concentrations in individuals prior to cancer occurrence.

Similarly, it is hypothesized that dopamine-DNA adducts affect dopaminergic neurons and cause Parkinson’s disease.

Cavalieri and colleagues suggest that compounds such as resveratrol and N-acetylcysteine ( an amino acid that increases antioxidant defences) can curb estrogen-DNA adduct formation.

Similarly, they may stop the formation of dopamine-DNA adduct formation and aid in the prevention of Parkinson’s disease. [34]

Quick Gist: Dietary consumption of resveratrol may help prevent Parkinson’s disease by improving antioxidant defences and activating genes that would protect brain health.

Dosage Of Resveratrol For Parkinson’s Disease

There is no specific dosage of resveratrol prescribed for Parkinson’s disease. Further research in the form of human studies is required to identify the dosage.

200mg of resveratrol supplement is found to improve brain health in patients with high-risk dementia.

A dose range of 500mg to 1000mg twice daily has been used in studies, but at high doses side effects are observed.

Resveratrol can be obtained from dietary sources: red and purple grapes, peanuts, pistachios, dark chocolate, blueberries.

Including fresh grape juice or a serving of fresh berries daily in diet can help. Snacking on berries and nuts is great. 20 g of dark chocolate daily (70% or more cocoa, no milk, no sugar) is great for heart and brain health.

Please consult a health practitioner before taking resveratrol supplements.

Precautions with Resveratrol Use

Resveratrol is found to be safe. At high doses, side effects such as nausea, diarrhoea and other gastric symptoms have been noted.

Resveratrol has antiplatelet activity; avoid if suffering from blood clotting related disorders or taking blood thinners.

Avoid taking resveratrol at the same time as taking other medicines. Please consult a health practitioner before taking resveratrol supplements.

Conclusion

The current evidence presents multiple ways by which resveratrol can help in Parkinson’s disease.

It exhibits various therapeutic properties including protection of dopaminergic neurons, regulation of pathways supporting survival and viability of neurons, protecting neurons against damage caused by oxidative stress and inflammation.

Dietary resveratrol shows promising potential towards the prevention of Parkinson’s disease.

Further research in the form of human studies is required to overcome the low bioavailability and propel the clinical use of resveratrol for Parkinson’s disease.

Know the research-backed benefits of resveratrol for Parkinson's disease treatment and prevention.

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