In a good news for wine lovers, researchers have found a compound present in red wine which can treat depression and anxiety.
The plant compound resveratrol displays anti-stress effects by blocking the expression of an enzyme which controls stress in the brain.
"Resveratrol may be an effective alternative to drugs for treating patients suffering from depression and anxiety disorders," said Ying Xu, Associate Professor, University at Buffalo in the US.
The findings, published in the journal Neuropharmacology, shed light on how neurological processes are impacted by resveratrol - a compound having numerous health benefits and found in the skin and seeds of grapes and berries.
While research has identified resveratrol to have antidepressant effects, the compound's relationship to phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4), an enzyme influenced by the stress hormone corticosterone, was unknown.
Corticosterone regulates the body's response to stress. Too much stress, however, can lead to excessive amounts of the hormone circulating in the brain and, ultimately, to depression or other mental disorders.
The research also reveals that PDE4, induced by excessive amounts of corticosterone, causes depression- and anxiety-like behaviour.
The enzyme lowers cyclic adenosine monophosphate - a messenger molecule that signals physiological changes such as cell division, change, migration and death - in the body, leading to physical alterations in the brain.
Resveratrol displayed neuroprotective effects against corticosterone by inhibiting the expression of PDE4. The research lays the groundwork for the use of the compound in novel antidepressants.
According to the researchers, although red wine contains resveratrol, consumption of alcohol has various health risks, including addiction.