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Red Wine Compound May Slow Drinking-Linked Liver Condition

Mouse study suggests resveratrol impedes fatty buildup in the organ, which is linked to cirrhosis

FRIDAY, Oct. 17, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- The accumulation of fat in the liver caused by chronic alcohol consumption might be prevented by consuming the red wine ingredient resveratrol, a new study in mice suggests.

Reducing fat in the liver can help stave off liver diseases such as cirrhosis and fibrosis, researchers note.

Previous studies have suggested that resveratrol -- a substance found in grapes, peanuts, berries and red wine -- may have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as cardiovascular benefits. However, these findings have not been conclusive in humans.

The study, by researchers at the University of South Florida Health Sciences Center in Tampa, concluded that resveratrol cut down on the amount of fat produced in the livers of mice given alcohol and, simultaneously, increased the breakdown of fat in the liver.

The research was published in the American Journal of Physiology -- Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology.

The study adds to previous research that suggested alcohol shuts off two molecules -- AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) -- that are key to initiating the breakdown of fats in the liver. Resveratrol, however, appears to do the opposite, switching on the molecules and helping to clear out fat. This stops fat from accumulating in the mouse liver by both reducing the production of fat and burning off the fat that is there.

Surprisingly, alcohol with resveratrol appears to enhance the positive effects of resveratrol alone, according to study senior author Min You.

"Our study suggests that resveratrol may serve as a promising agent for preventing or treating human alcoholic fatty liver disease," the authors concluded.

More information

There's more on fatty liver disease at the British Liver Trust.

SOURCE: American Physiological Society, news release, Oct. 14, 2008
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