Resveratrol is a polyphenol that is abundant in grapes and red wine and is known to possess anti-oxidant activity. It has been extensively studied in preclinical trials as a potential therapeutic for the prevention and/or treatment of a variety of diseases including cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Clinical trials in humans however, have yielded inconsistent results at best, owed in part to its rapid metabolism and its consequent low bioavailability. In spite of these shortcomings, many scientists still hold out hope for this compound and its untapped potential as a therapeutic.
A recent finding by researchers at Georgia State University, Atlanta (USA), published in the journal Scientific Reports, identified a novel mechanism that resveratrol uses to suppress the production of pro-inflammatory mediators in air way epithelia and thereby alleviate inflammation in airway disease. They claim that resveratrol can help control inflammation induced by a bacterial pathogen that is linked to upper respiratory tract inflammatory diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) and middle ear infection (otitis media).
Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) are both inflammatory diseases that result in shortness of breath, coughing and generally affect airflow to the lungs. These diseases can be exacerbated by the presence of certain pathogens in the lungs such as non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi). While antibiotics are prescribed routinely to patients to keep these pathogens in check, the development of antibiotic-resistant strains has led to a need for novel non-antibiotic drugs.
The team of scientists led by Dr. Jian-Dong Li, senior author of the study and director of the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University identified the involvement of MyD88 short (MyD88s) in resveratrol-mediated anti-inflammatory effects in the lungs.
MyD88s is a protein that functions as a master regulator of inflammatory mediators and prevents the activation of numerous pro-inflammatory pathways.
According to the present study, resveratrol attenuates NTHi-induced air way inflammation by increasing MyD88s production and reducing the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines both in vitro and in vivo.
“It has been shown that resveratrol can suppress inflammation, but how it regulates inflammation still remains largely unknown. We found that resveratrol suppresses a major bacterial pathogen causing COPD by upregulating or increasing the production of a negative regulator called MyD88 short. The findings help us to shed light on developing new therapeutic strategies by targeting or pharmacologically upregulating MyD88 short production. We could use resveratrol to suppress inflammation or develop resveratrol derivatives that could be pharmacological agents to suppress inflammation using the same strategy,” said Dr. Li.
This discovery holds a certain amount of therapeutic promise, since administration of resveratrol to mice 3 hours after NTHi-induced inflammation continued to produce these anti-inflammatory effects. Nonetheless, the aforementioned drawbacks to using resveratrol for medicinal purposes have to be overcome before it can be marketed as anti-inflammatory medication.
The original publication can be accessed here: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep34445