Not the grapevine: Grapes help fight depression, say researchers

Not the grapevine: Grapes help fight depression, say researchers

Grapes can be helpful in fighting depression, a team of scientists from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York has found. In a study published online in the Nature Communications in February 2018, the scientists analyzed a couple of novel grape-derived compounds — dihydrocaffeic acid (DHCA) and malvidin-3′-O-glucoside (Mal-gluc) — that might be used as therapeutic agents for the treatment of the debilitating mental health condition.

As per the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) says that depression is one of the most common mental illnesses among people in the United States. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by the year 2020, depression will be the second cause of morbidity worldwide. One in six people in the U.S takes a psychiatric drug, be it an antidepressant, anxiety reliever or anti-psychotic pill, as per the Scientific American.

Depression is associated with a multitude of pathological processes, including inflammation of the peripheral immune system, which protects against disease and abnormalities involving synapses. The synapses are structures that permit neurons to pass an electrical or chemical signal to other neurons.

Current depression treatment needs improved techniques

Despite being a common illness, the conventional pharmacological treatments for depression produce only temporary remission in less than 50 percent of patients, and they are often associated with severe adverse effects. Hence, it has become crucial to look for a wider spectrum of novel therapeutics for depression.

One such area could be nutrition, considered to play an important role in mental health, as observational studies have also revealed that healthy diets are consistently associated with reduced depression risk. Studies suggest that long-term consumption of dietary polyphenols offers protection against development of neurodegenerative diseases.

In keeping with this view, the team of investigators led by Giulio Maria Pasinetti, Ph.D., professor at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, combined three grape-derived polyphenol products – Concord grape juice, trans-resveratrol, and a select grape seed extract – to form a bioactive dietary polyphenol preparation. As seen earlier, this concoction helped reduce stress-induced depression and boost resilience in mice. It is established that polyphenols, which are present in foods such as fruits, vegetables, olives, and chocolate, can successfully reduce aspects of depression, among other diseases, including cancer.

In particular, scientists found that DHCA and Mal-gluc could stimulate resilience in mouse models of depression by lessening inflammation and synaptic plasticity, correspondingly. DHCA decreases interleukin 6 (IL-6), a pro-inflammatory substance secreted by T cells and macrophages to arouse immune response, by modulating the non-coding sequence of the IL-6 gene. Besides, Mal-gluc controls histone acetylation of the Rac1 gene and allows transcription activators to access the DNA for increased transcription in the brain, which effects the expression of genes accountable for synaptic plasticity.

Additionally, the researchers demonstrated that DHCA/Mal-gluc treatment was effective in reducing depression-like characteristics in a mouse model due to increased systemic inflammation induced by transplantation of cells from the bone marrow of stress-susceptible mice. This study opens up new doors to harnessing compounds found in fruits like grapes, which might make it possible in designing treatment for depression.

Another study by the Instituto de Biotecnologia, Universidade de Caxias do Sul/UCS, Rua Francisco Getúlio Vargas, Brazil corroborated the effects of conventional and organic grape juice in the modulation of the neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and astrocytic markers protein (S100B) in hippocampus and frontal cortex of Wistar rats. BDNF is a dimer protein that plays an important role in neuroplasticity that is further associated with major depressive episodes while S100B is a calcium binding protein that reflects either glial damage or it may belong to a body of astrocytic reactions to neural injury.

In this study, it was observed that both grape juices – important polyphenols sources – increased the levels of BDNF in frontal cortex, implicating this juice to be an alternative to improve the memory and exert an anti-depressive effect.

Fighting depression

Consequently, these studies strongly support the need to test and identify novel compounds that target alternative pathologic mechanisms, such as inflammation and synaptic maladaptation for individuals who are resistant to currently available treatment. They also prove that the consumption or administration of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory molecules, such as polyphenols, is a beneficial strategy recommended for preventing several brain related diseases, including depression.

Depression is a serious condition which must not be ignored at any cost. If a loved one is suffering from depression, seek immediate help from Florida Depression Helpline. You may call our 24/7 helpline member 866-267-5177 or chat online for further information on quality depression rehab in Florida.

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