A compound called resveratrol could reduce arterial stiffness in some people with type 2 diabetes, new research suggests.
Arterial stiffness can affect how hard the heart has to work to pump blood through the body, and research has showed that people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to have stiff arteries.
Scientists from the Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute at Boston University found that resveratrol, a natural compound found in red wine, red grape skins, peanuts and berries, could reverse this abnormality.
"This adds to emerging evidence that there may be interventions that may reverse the blood vessel abnormalities that occur with aging and are more pronounced in people with type 2 diabetes and obesity," said senior author Naomi M. Hamburg, M.D., M.S.
Previous studies using mice found that resveratrol helped to delay aging and the development of certain diseases. This effect occurred once resveratol activated a gene called SIRT1 in the mice.
Building on this research, Hamburg and colleagues recruited 57 patients with type 2 diabetes and arterial stiffness. One group of participants consumed daily doses of 100mg/day of resveratrol for two weeks, then 300 mg/day for two weeks; the other group received placebo.
Both groups of participants were then tested on measures of arterial stiffness and how their blood vessels relaxed and expanded to accommodate changes in blood flow.
The researchers observed a slight improvement in patients who received resveratrol, and the compound led to increased SIRT1 activity.
"We found that resveratrol also activates the longevity gene SIRT1 in humans, and this may be a potential mechanism for the supplements to reduce aortic stiffness," said the researchers.
"The effect of resveratrol may be more about improving structural changes in the aorta, and less about the relaxation of blood vessels, and people with more normal aortic stiffness may not get as much benefit."
They concluded that longer duration studies are required to monitor the effects of resveratrol supplementation on vascular function.
The findings were at the American Heart Association's Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology / Peripheral Vascular Disease 2017 Scientific Sessions.