Epidemiological studies demonstrated that even in the absence of other risk factors (e.g. diabetes, hypertension, hyperhomocysteinemia, hypercholesterolemia), advanced age itself significantly increases cardiovascular morbidity by enhancing vascular oxidative stress and inflammation. Because the population in the Western world is rapidly aging, there is a substantial need for pharmacological interventions that delay the functional decline of the cardiovascular system. Resveratrol is an atoxic phytoestrogen found in more than 70 plants including grapevine and berries. Recent data suggest that nutritional intake of resveratrol and other polyphenol compounds may contribute to the "French paradox", the unexpectedly low cardiovascular morbidity in the Mediterranean population. There is increasing evidence that resveratrol exerts multifaceted anti-oxidant and/or anti-inflammatory effects in various disease models. Importantly, resveratrol was reported to slow aging and increase lifespan in simple organisms and has been suggested as a potential calorie restriction mimetic. Resveratrol has also been reported to activate NAD-dependent histone deacetylases (sirtuins), which may contribute to its anti-aging effects. This review focuses on the role of oxidative stress and inflammation in cardiovascular dysfunction in aging, and on emerging anti-aging therapeutic strategies offered by resveratrol and other polyphenol compounds.
Keywords: polyphenol, endothelium, heart, coronary circulation, senescence, inflammation, gene expression, NF-κB
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