Current research suggests that resveratrol, a naturally occurring compound found in red wine, grapes, blueberries, peanuts, and other plants, inhibits pathogenic new blood vessel growth. The related report by Khan et al, "Resveratrol regulates pathologic angiogenesis by a eukaryotic elongation factor-2 kinase regulated pathway," appears in the July 2010 issue of The American Journal of Pathology.
Resveratrol is a natural compound that is produced in a variety of plants to prevent bacterial and fungal infections. It is found in particularly high levels in grape skin (and consequently red wine), and at lower levels in blueberries, peanuts, and other plants. Various studies have shown that resveratrol can decrease the effects of aging and act as an anti-cancer agent through the function of specific proteins, known as sirtuin family proteins.
Angiogenesis, or new blood vessel formation, plays a central role in various cancers, atherosclerosis, and eye disease. To investigate the effects of resveratrol on angiogenesis, researchers group led by Dr. Rajendra S. Apte of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO assessed the consequences of resveratrol treatment on pathogenic blood vessel growth in the eye. They found that resveratrol inhibited angiogenesis via a novel, sirtuin-independent pathway. Moreover, they could reverse this angiogenesis-blocking effect with specific inhibitors. These data suggest a novel pathway of resveratrol function involved in angioproliferative diseases such as cancer and eye disease as well as a putative therapeutic strategy to treat these diseases.
Khan et al conclude that "the findings of this study might have a significant impact on our understanding of angioproliferative diseases that are characterized by abnormal angiogenesis both within and outside the eye." Dr. Apte states that "abnormal vascular proliferation in the eye leads to severe visual impairment in several blinding disorders of the eye including age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. It is also critical to the pathophysiology and progression of diseases outside the eye including several cancers. [His group] has previously demonstrated that the innate immune system can regulate neovascularization. In this study, [they] demonstrate that resveratrol, a naturally occurring compound, can directly inhibit the development of abnormal blood vessels (neovascularization) both within and outside the eye by a novel mechanism. These studies have tremendous implications for our understanding of novel pathways that directly regulate abnormal vascular proliferation and for drug discovery and development." In future studies they will attempt to "exploit [these properties] in order to treat disorders [such as age-related macular degeneration, cancer, and atherosclerosis] that have abnormal angiogenesis as a central feature of disease pathogenesis."