Resveratrol – a substance found in red wine, peanuts, and berries – may reduce artery stiffness in people with Type 2 diabetes, according to a new study presented in early May at the American Heart Association’s 2017 Scientific Sessions in Minneapolis. 
The study’s senior author, Dr. Naomi M. Hamburg, of the Boston University School of Medicine, said:
“This adds to emerging evidence that there may be interventions that may reverse the blood vessel abnormalities that occur with aging and are more pronounced in people with Type 2 diabetes and obesity.”
For the study, researchers recruited 57 obese, middle-aged patients with Type 2 diabetes. Nearly 2/3 of the participants were African American, and slightly more than half were women.
The aorta, the largest artery in the body, stiffens with age and illness, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Researchers tested the participants’ arterial stiffness using a test called the carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity, or CFPWV, after the volunteers consumed daily doses of 100 mg/day of resveratrol for 2 weeks, followed by 300 mg/day of resveratrol for 2 weeks.
The test was performed a second time after participants underwent comparable placebo dosing for a total of 4 weeks.
In addition, researchers assessed the ability of the participants’ blood vessels to expand and relax as needed to allow for changes in blood flow, an important indicator of healthy blood vessel function.
Overall, the study found that participants who took the resveratrol supplements had less arterial stiffness, but it wasn’t statistically significant.
In a subset of 23 patients who had severe aortic stiffness at the beginning of the study, however, the 300 mg dose of resveratrol reduced aortic stiffness by 9.1%, and the 100 mg dose reduced aortic stiffness by 4.8%. 
Among the patients that took a placebo for 4 weeks, aortic stiffening worsened.
Past studies in animals showed that resveratrol activates a gene (SIRT1) that seems to delay aging and development of several diseases. To test whether the same thing occurs in humans, researchers took samples from the blood vessel linings of 7 patients and looked at SIRT1 activity. After resveratrol supplementation, they found that gene activity increased slightly in humans.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that the antioxidant can undo age-related changes in the arteries, but it’s a step towards helping scientists figure out how resveratrol can reverse age-related changes in the arteries.
Lead study author, Dr. Ji-Yao Ella Zhang, Ph.D., also of the Boston University, said:
“We found that resveratrol also activates the longevity gene SIRT1 in humans, and this may be a potential mechanism for the supplements to reduce aortic stiffness.
However, the changes in this small and short-term study are not proof. Studies with longer treatment are needed to test the effects of a daily resveratrol supplement on vascular function.” 
Hamburg cautions that resveratrol may not be as beneficial to people without Type 2 diabetes.
“The effect of resveratrol may be more about improving structural changes in the aorta, and less about the relaxation of blood vessels, and people with more normal aortic stiffness may not get as much benefit.” 
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