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Could a compound found in red wine treat depression?

First we must point out that drinking wine is not a medical treatment for depression! The compound, known as resveratrol, is famously found in red wine, but this does not mean that wine is medicine.

Resveratrol occurs naturally in the skins of grapes and berries. Researchers in China have looked at the way the compound interacts with brain signalling chemicals and found that it appears to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The research, from Xuzhou Medical University in China and published in the journal Neuropharmacology, relied on cultured mouse neurons to investigated the effects of resveratrol on two chemicals found in the brain, known as phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) and cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP).

PDE4 is a family of enzymes that break down cAMP, which is a messenger within brain cells that passes on signals from outside the cell. Previous research suggests that stress hormones such as cortisol can lead to higher levels of PDE4, reducing levels of cAMP.

In the new study, resveratrol reversed the increase in the levels of PDE4 and prevented the decrease in cAMP. Researchers believe that resveratrol could become an effective alternative to existing depression medications, however, a lot more research needs to be done to confirm its effectiveness.

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