Washington: Scientists have discovered that a natural compound found in peanuts and red wine might improve mobility in elderly by reducing motor deficiencies.
Researchers from the Duquesne University in Pittsburgh found that resveratrol could cut motor deficiencies in older people.
"Our study suggests that a natural compound like resveratrol, which can be obtained either through dietary supplementation or diet itself, could actually decrease some of the motor deficiencies that are seen in our ageing population," Jane E Cavanaugh, leader of the research team said.
Cavanaugh said that falls become more common with advancing age and are the leading cause of injury-related death among people older than 65.
In addition, about one in three older Americans have difficulty with balance or walking, according to the American Geriatrics Society.
"These mobility problems are particularly common among older people who have Parkinson`s disease and other age-related neurological disorders," Cavanaugh said in a statement.
The researchers fed young and old laboratory mice a diet containing resveratrol for eight weeks. They periodically tested the rodents` ability to navigate a steel mesh balance beam, counting the number of times that each mouse took a misstep.
Initially, the older mice had more difficulty manoeuvring on the obstacle. But by week four, the older mice made far fewer missteps and were on par with the young mice.
While it is unclear how resveratrol works in the body, Cavanaugh`s team found some clues. In laboratory experiments, they exposed neural cells to a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which in large amounts can induce cell death.
However, neurons treated with resveratrol before being exposed to dopamine survived. On closer examination, the researchers found that resveratrol mitigated the damage done by oxygen free radicals, generated by the breakdown of the dopamine, and activated protein signaling pathways that appeared to promote cell survival.
Cavanaugh noted that resveratrol does have some drawbacks. For instance, it is poorly absorbed by the body. In fact, she calculated that a 150-pound person would have to drink almost 700 4-ounce glasses of red wine a day to absorb enough resveratrol to get any beneficial effects.
The study was presented at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.