Phenolic compounds in red wine have alcohol independent beneficial effects on atherosclerosis biomarkers

A clinical trial published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN), headed by doctors and researchers of the Department of Internal Medicine at the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona and IDIBAPS, compared in high cardiovascular risk patients the effects of red wine and the effects of dealcoholized wine, a commercial variant in whithout alcohol. Thus, the study evaluated separately the effect of ethanol and phenolic compounds of red wine on the expression of biomarkers of inflammation related to atherosclerosis. Dr. Ramon Estruch, IDIBAPS researcher and professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Barcelona, is the latest author of this article and Dr. Gemma Chiva-Blanch, from the same center, is the first one. The work was developed together with the CIBER of Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition (CIBERobn).

Many studies indicate that moderate wine consumption has beneficial effects on health. Atherosclerosis is currently considered a low grade inflammatory disease of the artery walls, which can be relieved by a moderate consumption of wine. What could not be clarified until now is whether these benefits are due to the phenolic compounds of wine, regardless of alcohol intake. These compounds are responsible for the flavor, color and texture of wine in the mouth.

The study published by researchers from IDIBAPS - Hospital Clínic is the first prospective randomized trial that examines separately the effects of red wine and its variant without alcohol on the initial stages of atherosclerosis. The study was conducted on 67 male volunteers with a high cardiovascular risk. These individuals were separated into three groups receiving during four weeks 30g alcohol per day of red wine, the equivalent volume in of non-alcoholic wine or the equivalent of 30g of alcohol per day of gin. During this period samples and serology were collected to study the evolution of various biomarkers, the expression of adhesion molecules and inflammatory cytokines related to the disease.

The results suggest that both ethanol and non-alcoholic components contribute separately to the anti-inflammatory effects of red wine. The phenolic components would be responsible for modulating the expression of adhesion molecules on leukocytes, whereas both ethanol and polyphenols of wine would influence the presence of soluble mediators of inflammation in patients with high cardiovascular risk. These effects could contribute to the benefits attributed to wine to improve the initial stages and progression of atherosclerosis.