Can Grape Extracts Treat Depression?

Scientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in NYC performed a study on chronically stressed mice. An article on the website, MedicalNewsToday, Feb. 5, 2018 explained the derivative they obtained from grapes and their early findings. The team was led by Professor of Neurology, Giulio Maria Pasinetti. Results were positive and their results were published in Nature Communications.

What Prompted This Study?
The article on MedicalNewsToday also provides readers with statistics on the prevalence of major depressive disorder (clinical depression) in the United States. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that this disorder is “”‘the leading cause of disability’ among people between 15 and 44 years old” in the U.S. Data indicates that over 16 million adults in the U.S. reportedly are affected with depression (6.7 percent of the U.S. population). Drugs used to treat depression are helping less than 50 percent of patients using the those medications.

What’s Found In Grapes?
Earlier research indicated that “so-called grape polyphenols” did have a positive effect on improving major depressive disorder. So the team set out to delve into precisely how to extract the polyphenols for testing this on the mice. They derived a mixture of Concord grape juice, grape seed extract, and “transresveratrol” for their purposes. This mixture is BDPP (bioactive dietary polyphenol preparation).

They then derived two additional phytochemicals by further metabolizing the BDPP. These are called DHCA and Mal-gluc. This is what was administered to the mice. They found that one “intervenes epigenetically to raise the expression of genes” improving “synaptic plasticity.” The other phytochemical lowers “levels of a pro-inflammatory substance.”

How Did These Phytochemicals Help Depression?
Two mechanisms that play into depression are inflammation and malfunctioning of synapses. Both were improved using DHCA and Mal-gluc. These mechanisms have not been given much attention in the past. Prof. Pasinetti says that using “a combination treatment of DHCA and Mal-gluc [the two phytochemicals] to simultaneously inhibit peripheral inflammation and modulate synaptic plasticity in the brain works synergistically to optimize resilience against chronic stress-induced depression-like phenotypes.”

This study delves into the functions of the brain causing depression. Inflammation and malfunctioning synapses haven’t been “often ignored” in the past. With the discovery of this natural compound and how it affects these two mechanisms, a step has been taken toward “an effective way to treat a subset of people with depression and anxiety, a condition that affects so many people.”


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