Washington University retina specialist Rajendra S. Apte, MD, PhD, the study’s senior investigator while discussing about this new study said that
“A great deal of research has identified resveratrol as an anti-aging compound, and given our interest in age-related eye disease, we wanted to find out whether there was a link”.
Resveratrol found in red wine, grapes, blueberries, peanuts and other plants stops out of control blood vessel growth in the eye.
The discovery has implications for preserving vision in blinding eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in Americans over 50.
The formation of new blood vessels, called angiogenesis, also plays a key role in certain cancers and in atherosclerosis. Conducting experiments in mouse retinas, the researchers found that resveratrol can inhibit angiogenesis. Another surprise was the pathway through which resveratrol blocked angiogenesis. The findings are reported in the July issue of the American Journal of Pathology.
Dr. Apte, an assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences and of developmental biology, says because resveratrol is given orally, patients may prefer it to many current treatments for retinal disease, which involve eye injections. The compound also is easily absorbed in the body.
Apte says the pathway his laboratory has identified may be active not only in those blinding eye diseases, but in cancers and atherosclerosis as well. If so, then one day it might be possible to use resveratrol to improve eyesight and to prevent cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer, too.
This research was supported by grants from the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health, the Carl Marshall Reeves and Mildred Almen Reeves Foundation, Research to Prevent Blindness, the International Retina Research Foundation, American Federation for Aging Research, American Retina Foundation and an IRRF Callahan Award.