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Grape Compound Scores High for Lower
Lipids By Luis
Pons August 23, 2004
A grape compound called pterostilbene, already shown to have
cancer-fighting properties, may be as effective as a widely used synthetic drug
in reducing lipids.
Those are the findings of a study conducted on rat liver cells by
Agricultural Research Service chemist
Agnes Rimando and colleagues Rangaswamy Nagmani and Dennis R. Feller of the
University of Mississippi's
School of Pharmacy.
Rimando presented her findings today as part of the
228th national meeting of
the American Chemical Society in
Lipids, along with proteins and carbohydrates, are vital components
of living cells. Compounds considered lipids include fats, oils, fatty acids,
triglycerides and steroids-- including cholesterol. Lipid-lowering compounds
can help people battle heart disease and alleviate some of the health problems
associated with obesity.
The study, led by Rimando at the ARS
Natural Products Utilization
Research Unit in Oxford, Miss., found that the lipid-lowering property of
pterostilbene (pronounced TAIR-oh- STILL-bean) is superior to that of
resveratrol and rivals that of the commercial hypolipidemic drug
Pterostilbene is similar in chemical structure to resveratrol,
another grape compound credited with helping fight illnesses including cancer
and heart disease.
The study [view technical abstract] was novel in that it demonstrated,
at the cellular and molecular levels, how resveratrol and similar compounds
activate a biological receptor that regulates fatty acid metabolism and plasma
lipoproteins, and thus may help treat heart disease caused by plaque deposition
The focus of the study was the compounds' ability to spur activation
of the "peroxisome proliferator activated receptor alpha" (PPARa), which leads
to reductions in blood triglyceride levels. In this, resveratrol--which is
known to have hypolipidemic properties--did not match the performance of
pterostilbene, which was as effective as ciprofibrate in activating PPARa.
Rimando and other colleagues recently completed a separate study in
which, for the first time, pterostilbene was detected in some berries of
Vaccinium, a genus of shrubs that includes cranberries, blueberries,
lingonberries, bilberries and huckleberries.