In a study published in the journal Nature, researchers found resveratrol may protect the body against age-related diseases by prompting an evolutionary defense mechanism which guards human cells against genetic damage.
Resveratrol has been credited before with benefiting human health, including reduced risk of heart disease, promoting longer lifespan, and aiding the battle against some cancers. Some recent studies have also shown resveratrol can ease cognitive decline, and even protect against hearing loss. The natural phenol is found in red wine, as well as in the skin of dark grapes.
Some researchers have carried out studies which appear to call some of the reported health benefits of resveratrol into question. One paper concluded that people who consumed large amounts of the compound were just as likely to suffer from heart disease and cancer as the general population.
Tyrosine is known to stimulate a response in the body that limits stress and damage to the DNA of cells which may result in ageing and disease if uninterrupted.
"This stress response represents a layer of biology that has been largely overlooked. Resveratrol turns out to activate it at much lower concentrations than those used in prior studies," said senior investigator Paul Schimmel, a professor and member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at TSRI, US.
Based on these results, "it is conceivable that moderate consumption of a couple of glasses of red wine would give a person enough resveratrol to evoke a protective effect via this pathway," said lead author Mathew Sajish, a senior research associate in the Schimmel laboratory.
The combination of resveratrol and TyrRS was also found to activate other protective genes including anti-cancer gene p53, which suppresses tambours and other age-related diseases.
Co-author Matthew Sajish added: "Based on these results, it is conceivable that moderate consumption of a couple of glasses of red wine would give a person enough resveratrol to evoke a protective effect via this pathway."
An enzyme known as type TyrRS, a type of tRNA synthetase that bonds with the amino acid tyrosine, was examined by researchers studying the chemical. Resveratrol is known to behave in a manner similar to tyrosine.
"Based on these results, it is conceivable that moderate consumption of a couple glasses of red wine (rich in resveratrol) would give a person enough resveratrol to evoke a protective effect via this pathway," Mathew Sajish of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), said.
Resveratrol evolved hundreds of millions of years ago in plants, before the rise of the world's first animals.
"We think this is just the tip of the iceberg. We think there are a lot more amino-acid mimics out there that can have beneficial effects like this in people. And we're working on that now," Sajish stated in a press release.
Study of the effects of resveratrol at repairing damage from aging was detailed in the journal Nature.