Protective Travel Supplies: Resveratrol, an ingredient of red wine and grapes, can protect future astronauts from muscle loss – helping them maintain the fitness of missions on Mars. Since the substance can prevent at least some of the muscle degradation under low gravity, as now suggests rat experiments. With daily use of resveratrol, animals retain their grip strength and much of their muscle mass despite the lack of stress.
The plant ingredient Resveratrol is contained in grapes, red wine and blueberries and is considered healthier with different effects. Because the antioxidant has an anti-inflammatory effect, it has to protect against cardiovascular disease and even inhibit cancer. However, the beneficial effects of dietary supplements with resveratrol are controversial, probably because much of this drug does not always help much, as recently suggested by a study.
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Resveratrol as a gravitational generator?
Another potential effect of resveratrol has already been studied by Marie Montreux at the Harvard Medical School, Boston and her team: protection against reduced muscle fatigue. If a person stays in the weightlessness of space for a long time, he quickly loses strength and muscle mass. Purposeful training can stop this muscular atrophy, but not prevent it completely.
The same applies to the stay of the Moon or Mars – both goals of the future space missions. The weight on them is only a sixth or a third as strong – and this also leads to muscle contraction without counteraction. Whether daily intake of resveratrol can protect against muscle loss, researchers have already studied rats.
The retaining force is retained
In the experiment, the animals were suspended for 14 days in special belts, so their leg muscles were loaded with only 40% – this corresponds approximately to Martian gravity. One half of the rats receive a daily dose of 150 milligrams of resveratrol per kilogram of body weight and the other not. Before and after researchers have tested grip strength, muscle mass and number of muscle fibers in the leg muscles of the animals.
The result: After two weeks, untreated control animals have lost as expected in muscle mass and grip strength. However, not the rats that received daily Resveratrol: While muscle mass has also shrunk slightly, their grip on the fore and hind legs remains the same, despite reduced stress, as reported by researchers. Loss of muscle fibers is also significantly lower in these animals.
Impact on sugar balance?
How this positive effect is manifested is still not clear. However, researchers suspect that the effect of resveratrol on the sugar balance can play a role. "Resveratrol promotes muscle growth in diabetic mice, increasing insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake in muscle fibers," Moro explains.
This mechanism can help counteract muscular atrophy with reduced gravity. "Our results highlight the therapeutic potential of resveratrol," the researchers said. Earlier studies observed a similar muscle-protective effect of resveratrol even at full weightlessness.
Help for astronauts
According to Moro and her team, it is quite possible that these positive effects of resveratrol will be used to protect the astronauts on missions on Mars or during longer Moon residences. The gift of the substance as a food supplement could, for example, support the musculosuppressive effect of physical training.
But before, further research is needed. "We still need to find out which mechanisms are involved and what effects the different doses of resveratrol on men and women have," says Moro. "It is also important to confirm that resveratrol will not interfere with other astronauts." (Frontiers in Physiology, 2019; doi: 10.3389 / fphys.2019.00899)
Source: Frontiers, Bath Israel Deaconess Medical Center