Oct. 15, 2008 -- Scientists looking for ways to help treat fatty livers have discovered that an ingredient in red wine can help protect from -- and possibly even be used to treat -- fat buildup in the liver that goes hand-in-hand with chronic alcohol use.
This study zoned in on resveratrol.
You've likely heard about the antioxidant found in red wine, grapes, berries, and peanuts. Resveratrol has previously been linked to health benefits for cancer and heart disease.
It may seem counterintuitive to think that a main ingredient in something like red wine could actually help to protect the liver from damage, but that was one of the key findings.
The study, led by Joanne M. Ajmo at the University of South Florida Health Sciences Center in Tampa, looked at the effects of resveratrol in alcoholic fatty livers of mice.
Researchers found that alcohol-fed mice given resveratrol had less fat in their livers and the fat broke down more quickly than alcohol-fed mice not give resveratrol.
The researchers note that resveratrol has been shown to activate molecules that are also important in fat metabolism in the liver. Chronic alcohol abuse inhibits these molecules.
In this study, alcohol-fed mice treated with resveratrol also had enhanced activity of these molecules.
"Collectively, these results demonstrate that resveratrol treatment protected against the development of alcoholic [fatty liver] in mice," they write.
The authors write that alcohol along with "concentrated resveratrol could be a more potent and efficient way" of getting the health benefits of resveratrol alone.
The study appears in the October issue of The American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology.