Could chemical found in red wine help with COPD?

Now here’s a timely bit of good news from the folks at New Scientist considering recent developments with my mom. Seems researchers have identified the molecule in red wine that accounts for it’s beneficial health effects (when taken in moderation). The molecule is an antioxidant called resveratrol and early experiments seem to show it could help people with COPD: 

Red wine chemical may soothe lung disease – New Scientist

The team isolated immune cells called macrophages from the lung fluid of 15 COPD patients, and 15 smokers who did not have the disease. The Imperial group believes these cells are responsible for causing the inflammation to cells in the lungs that over the long-term leads to the breakdown of lung tissue.

Macrophages are special “scavenger” white blood cells, which vacuum up foreign particles entering the body or dead cells. However, they can also release powerful molecules that fuel a strong inflammatory response.

When resveratrol was added to the macrophage samples, it almost completely eliminated the production of one such molecule called interleukin-8 (IL-8). This fell by 88 per cent in the COPD patients’ macrophages, and 94 per cent in the smokers’ macrophages.

“Interleukin-8 is a very powerful chemoattractant,” explains Donnelly. It recruits other white blood cells called neutrophils to the area. These cells release powerful enzymes that help to break down the lung in COPD, she says. It also attracts monocytes, which are precursor macrophages.

The production of IL-8 is five times higher in COPD sufferers’ than smokers’ macrophages. Smokers generally produce more than non-smokers.

Resveratrol also cut the release of another inflammatory molecule, GM-CSF, by 76 per cent in COPD cells and 79 per cent in smokers’ cells. This molecule helps keep neutrophils alive for longer in the lungs, says Donnelly.

The two molecules were also reduced by about half by the red wine ingredient even when the cells were stimulated with smoke.

The team is now working with industry to find a drug candidate based on resveratrol. “One of the problems is it is not terribly bioavailable,” says Donnelly. “So even if you drink lots of red wine, you are not going to get enough concentration to have an effect.”

So it sounds like using this as a means of treatment is still some ways off, but it provides hope for dealing with what will be a growing problem in the future.

1 thought on “Could chemical found in red wine help with COPD?

  1. My mom had a glass of red wine each night (for years)  and still recently had to visit the ER/Rehab for COPD/CHF.  As I read more, it seems a fondness for bacon/ham/hot dogs (independent risks for COPD even amongst non-smokers) plus a Sodium intake well in excess of the RDA of 2500mg/day may have also contributed. I’m just pointing out that red wine cannot do magic for a chronic “grim reaper condition” that strikes people who thought (or were told by ignorant/uncaring physicians with bold statements about “quitting smoking now …”) that they had somehow completely escaped the consequences of “moderate or mild cigarette smoking”.

    It should also be noted that pulse oximetry (which takes about 10 seconds and is non-invasive) is not done at so-called Pulmonologists offices, even when treating diagnosed COPD patients.  Their explanation: “early detection/treatment does not alter morbidity”. 

    Tonight I found a hospital bed angle of 45 degrees or more (to help breathing) plus tight connections of the oxygen concentrator tubing to the new bubble humidifier helped a lot as well, raising SpO2 from 85% to 92%.  This is a nursing issue, but former smokers are throwing themselves on a nursing/medical system where the typical nurse is no rocket scientist (in reality, perhaps not intelligent enough to mop the floor), and “nursing treatment issues in COPD management” can cost the patient their lives.

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