WASHINGTON, April 5 (Xinhua) -- Chinese researchers said Tuesday they have discovered how resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, reduces the risk of heart disease.
They reported in mBio, an open-access journal published by the American Society for Microbiology, that resveratrol protects against conditions such as heart disease by changing the gut microbiome.
"Our results offer new insights into the mechanisms responsible for resveratrol's anti-atherosclerosis effects and indicate that gut microbiota may become an interesting target for pharmacological or dietary interventions to decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases," said Man-tian Mi of the Third Military Medical University in China, who led the study.
In recent years, researchers have learned that the gut microbiome plays a role in the buildup of plaque inside arteries, otherwise known as atherosclerosis.
In the new study, researchers conducted a number of experiments in mice to determine whether the protective effect of resveratrol against atherosclerosis was related to changes in the gut microbiome.
They found that resveratrol reduces levels of trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), a known contributor to the development of atherosclerosis.
They also found that resveratrol inhibits gut bacteria from producing TMA, which is necessary for the production of TMAO.
"In our current study, we found that resveratrol can remodel the gut microbiota including increasing the Bacteroidetes-to-Firmicutes ratios, significantly inhibiting the growth of Prevotella, and increasing the relative abundance of Bacteroides, Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Akkermansia in mice," said Mi.
"Resveratrol reduces TMAO levels by inhibiting the gut microbial TMA formation via remodeling gut microbiota."
The researchers said they will next further define the role of resveratrol in cardiovascular disease and replicate their findings in humans.