Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore found a molecular pathway in mice that may explain the protective effect of resveratrol -- a compound found in the skins and seeds of red grapes.
"Our study adds to evidence that resveratrol can potentially build brain resistance to ischemic stroke," study leader Sylvain Dore says in a statement.
Dore and colleagues induced an ischemic stroke by cutting off blood supply to the brains of mice and found those fed a modest dose of resveratrol two hours beforehand suffered significantly less brain damage than mice not given the compound.
The study, published in the journal Experimental Neurology, also finds resveratrol had no protective effect in mice lacking the enzyme heme oxygenase. Dore suggests resveratrol increases levels of this enzyme, which, in turn, helps shield nerve cells in the brain from damage.
"Resveratrol itself may not be shielding brain cells from free radical damage directly but instead, resveratrol, and its metabolites, may be prompting the cells to defend themselves," Dore says.