Resveratrol may help protect brain cell function in those affected by Huntington's disease.

Research suggests that resveratrol’s antioxidant and regulatory effects may be able to help protect brain cells against the damage caused by this neurodegenerative condition, and possibly even reverse some symptoms.140 Primarily occurring in middle-aged Caucasians, Huntington’s disease is a hereditary central nervous system disorder characterized by cognitive impairment, seizures, psychiatric problems, and movement disturbances. It is chronic and progressively deteriorating disease that is eventually fatal.141-142

The genetic defect in Huntington’s disease causes a section of the DNA to replicate more times than normal. Although Huntington’s is solely caused by genetics, there are a number of processes at the cellular level which contribute to the progression of the disease. These include:141-142

  • Dysfunctional protein synthesis
  • Mitochondrial abnormalities
  • Decreased glucose metabolism in the brain
  • Poorly regulated intracellular calcium levels

How Does It Work?

A powerful antioxidant, resveratrol helps get rid of free radicals that damage the mitochondria of cells. Crucial to cell metabolism, energy, and overall health, mitochondria regulate many cell processes, including in neurons. The gene responsible for Huntington’s disease produces mutant Htt proteins that subsequently cause defects in mitochondria.141

Although there are relatively few studies specifically assessing resveratrol’s effects on Huntington’s disease, research in other areas contribute to knowledge about how it may work to control the condition. For example, studies in breast cancer have shown that resveratrol helps regulate mitochondrial function and the levels of calcium inside cells.143 Other research on metabolism indicates that resveratrol’s direct or indirect activation of SIRT1 gene activity may help regulate protein synthesis and protect mitochondria.95

And like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, Huntington’s disease is characterized by years of abnormal cell functions that progressively pile up as we age. Resveratrol’s known anti-aging mechanisms may very well explain some of its protective benefits in all of these conditions.141

Evidence of Benefit

Lab and animal studies indicate that resveratrol helps protect neurons from the toxic effects of Htt on mitochondria.141 Recent lab, fruit fly, and animal studies show that resveratrol can be added to the short list of substances known to activate a protein signaling pathway shown to reduce the effects of Htt.142

Resveratrol demonstrated promising reversal of symptoms in an animal model of Huntington’s disease induced by injection of 3-Nitropropionic acid. Daily oral administration of 5-10 mg/kg doses of resveratrol as a pre- and post-treatment significantly reversed symptoms of motor and cognitive impairment.140

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Nerve cells.
Huntingtin protein.
Ras-extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) cascade.

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