Researchers have discovered an antioxidant that may potentially help protect cardiovascular functions in patients with diabetes. Details on the study were presented at the 2017 Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology and Peripheral Vascular Disease Scientific Sessions in Minnesota. The American Heart Association sponsored the event. Ji-Yao Ella Zhang Ph.D. from the Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute at the Boston University in Massachusetts led the team. Dr. Naomi M. Hamburg, doctor of Cardiology and Internal Medicine, was the study’s senior author.
The compound Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in grape products such as juice and wine, certain berries, peanuts, and cocoa. The compound belongs to a class of chemicals known as polyphenols, which are antioxidants that come from plants. Previous research has suggested that polyphenols may help improve cardiovascular functions and reduce damaging inflammation.
Stiff arteries are a byproduct of the aging process. Those affected by diabetes experience premature arterial aging. Hardened arteries increase risks of experiencing a heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure.
Previous studies using animals as test subjects has shown that Resveratrol helps reduce hardening of the aorta. The aorta pumps oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The studies show that Resveratrol activates the SIRT1 gene, which is associated with slower aging processes. The team at Boston University wanted to explore if the compound had the same effect on humans.
Fifty-seven participants were chosen for the study. The average age of participants was 56 years. All patients had type II diabetes and had a body-mass index (BMI) that indicated obesity.
Patients were given 100 mg doses of Resveratrol daily for a two-week period. The dosage was then increased to 300 mg for another two weeks. After a two-week washout period, the participants were given a placebo for a total of 4 weeks.
Most of the participants saw no changes in arterial stiffness. However, a subgroup of 23 patients with particularly high arterial stiffness saw a 9% decrease with the 300 mg dose and a 4.8% decrease with the 100 mg dose. The placebo treatments seemed to increase overall arterial stiffness.
While the exact mechanism is not known, researchers conclude that Resveratrol treatment reverses abnormalities in blood vessels caused by aging, obesity, and diabetes. The compound appears to improve structural issues in the aorta but does not relax blood vessels. This means that Resveratrol treatment benefits diabetes patients more than those without this condition.
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