When pathologists perform autopsies on Alzheimer’s patients , they find that the brain has shrunk significantly. When this brain tissue is examined under the microscope, it is found to contain highly characteristic structures known as beta-amyloid plaques. In the broadest sense, these could be described as refuse heaps full of protein remnants.
Amyloid is a protein molecule found in the walls of nerve cells. These proteins are broken down by enzymes in the body that split them into smaller units. In Alzheimer’s patients, this splitting process occurs in the wrong place. The body appears to be unable to recognize the resulting cleavage products, which are therefore not transported away from the site of origin.
The protein remnants clump together in tiny “refuse heaps” (the beta-amyloid plaques) that ultimately become the tombstones of our memory. The best way to treat Alzheimer’s disease would therefore be to prevent the protein molecules from splitting in the wrong place. In November 2005, a group of scientists at the Research Center for the Study of Alzheimer Disease and Memory Disorders in New York, led by Philippe Marambaud, published a groundbreaking study.
The New York researchers had mixed resveratrol with cell cultures that produce human beta-amyloid then measured the concentration of protein fragments inside and outside the cells. The result: The cells impregnated with resveratrol contained significantly lower concentrations of beta-amyloid that those that had not been treated.
Resveratrol therefore directly influences the mechanism that causes this disease. This means that resveratrol is not only an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substances, but also has ‘anti-amyloidogenic’ properties.