How a natural compound — resveratrol, found in grapes and red wine — works to reduce the inflammation caused by a bacterial infection that is particularly worrisome in people with airway disorders, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), was recently identified by researchers.
The study, “Resveratrol suppresses NTHi-induced inflammation via up-regulation of the negative regulator MyD88 short,” published in the journal Scientific Reports, may advance research into treatments preventing inflammation caused by the infection.
Resveratrol has been explored in numerous studies of both cancer and inflammation, but researchers did not know how the compound was able to bring about its effects.
“It has been shown that resveratrol can suppress inflammation, but how it regulates inflammation still remains largely unknown,” Dr. Jian-Dong Li, the senior author of the study and director of the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University, and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, said in a news release.
Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae is a real problem for many people with lung disease, particularly since antibiotic resistance for the bacteria keeps rising. The bacteria worsens the inflammation already present in the lungs of people with asthma or COPD, and so, Li and his team set out to study if resveratrol would have an impact on inflammation caused by this microbe.
Researchers noted that resveratrol reduced the levels of inflammatory mediators, called cytokines, both in cells grown in the lab and in mice infected with the bacteria. Further molecular analysis revealed that the compound ramped up a factor called MyD88 short. When the team blocked MyD88 short, resveratrol could no longer produce any anti-inflammatory effects, demonstrating that the factor was involved in the response.
“The findings help us to shed light on developing new therapeutic strategies by targeting or pharmacologically up-regulating MyD88 short production,” said Li. “We could use resveratrol to suppress inflammation or develop resveratrol derivatives that could be pharmacological agents to suppress inflammation using the same strategy.”
The team also identified a host of molecular players involved in activating MyD88 short, allowing not only future research into the therapeutic potential of resveratrol, but also identifying factors that could be targeted by other drugs.