Blue berries may be bad for you

Sato F, Martinez NE, Shahid M, Rose JW, Carlson NG, Tsunoda I. Exacerbates Both Autoimmune and Viral Models of Multiple Sclerosis. Am J Pathol. 2013. doi:pii: S0002-9440(13)00527-0The polyphenol compound resveratrol is reported to have multiple functions, including neuroprotection, and no major adverse effects have been reported. Although the neuroprotective effects have been associated with sirtuin 1 activation by resveratrol, the mechanisms by which resveratrol exerts such functions are a matter of controversy. We examined whether resveratrol can be neuroprotective in two models of multiple sclerosis: experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) and Theiler’s murine encephalomyelitis virus-induced demyelinating disease (TMEV-IDD). EAE was induced in C57BL/6 mice, which were fed a control diet or a diet containing resveratrol during either the induction or effector phase or through the whole course of EAE. SJL/J mice were infected with TMEV and fed a control diet or a diet containing resveratrol during the chronic phase of TMEV-IDD. In EAE, all groups of mice treated with resveratrol had more severe clinical signs than the control group. In particular, resveratrol treatment during the induction phase resulted in the most severe EAE, both clinically and histologically. Similarly, in the viral model, the mice treated with resveratrol developed significantly more severe TMEV-IDD than the control group. Thus, surprisingly, the resveratrol treatment significantly exacerbated demyelination and inflammation without neuroprotection in the central nervous system in both models. Our findings indicate that caution should be exercised in potential therapeutic applications of resveratrol in human inflammatory demyelinating diseases, including multiple sclerosis.

Resveratol is an ingredient in red wine and berries and this study suggests that it makes EAE worse. Will it make the media say that blue berries are going to give you MS. 

However, in the past we have had many studies claiming that resveratol makes things better, so which is correct? 

This is the nature of science. we do not always agree.

Fonseca-Kelly Z, Nassrallah M, Uribe J, Khan RS, Dine K, Dutt M, Shindler KS. Resveratrol neuroprotection in a chronic mouse model of multiple sclerosis. Front Neurol. 2012;3:84. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2012.00084.

Shindler KS, Ventura E, Dutt M, Elliott P, Fitzgerald DC, Rostami A. Oral resveratrol reduces neuronal damage in a model of multiple sclerosis. J Neuroophthalmol. 2010;30(4):328-39

Imler TJ Jr, Petro TM. Decreased severity of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis during resveratroladministration is associated with increased IL-17+IL-10+ T cells, CD4(-) IFN-gamma+ cells, and decreased macrophage IL-6 expression. Int Immunopharmacol. 2009 Jan;9(1):134-43

Singh NP, Hegde VL, Hofseth LJ, Nagarkatti M, Nagarkatti PResveratrol (trans-3,5,4′-trihydroxystilbene) ameliorates experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, primarily via induction of apoptosis in T cells involving activation of aryl hydrocarbon receptor and estrogen receptor. Mol Pharmacol. 2007;72(6):1508-21

So let’s look at the data and they use between 100mg/kg-1000mg/kg of resveratol which is given orally to the mice to get it to stop EAE….I must admit I do not find the effects that compelling. 

Have a look for yourself they are open access. Diminution of EAE by a small bit is not that earth shattering. This does not give me the confidence that resveratol will stop the disease, however it may other desirable effects).

Now think that Red wine has about 0.2-6mg/Litre so if you drink a bottle of wine that is about 1mg/kg so about 100 to 1000 times less than stuff done in mice. 

So drinking red wine to get rid of your MS is not going to happen.

Therefore we need to be cautious about how we interpret and use data from the animals. 

Does this mean we should stop eating blueberries, I would take this information with “a pince of salt” (=to listen to a story or an explanation with considerable doubt) or maybe not (another dietary misnomer).

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  • MD has form for anti-blueberry sentiment.

    Blueberries are not grapes. Resveratrol and its alleged offending compounds are found in minor amounts in blueberries, and may not be present if they are baked or show regional variation.

    By contrast to the study you have reported a recent report in Science Daily of research done at the Linus Pauling Institute noted different findings concerning resveratrol and a component in blueberries called pterostilbene, it is observed that the studies were conducted in cell cultures. I had intended to post this previously to ask MD about the Vitamin D connection, however I feel he does not take blueberries seriously – which surprises me because they are power packed little chemical bliss bombs just ripe for exploitation by a drug company. Perhaps MD might like to offer an opinion about these findings?

    • MD was traumatised by a blueberry when he was very young so view his posts on the subject accordingly 😉

    • "MD has form for anti-blueberry sentiment".

      Not really I Iove blueberries they are great and when you think of them as"power packed little chemical bliss bombs" it makes my mouth water even more. However I do remember one of those "Stand by me" barf-o-rama moments.

      I really like a drink called Borovnicevec or blueberry liqueur

      In my youth I would not now what a buleberry was it was goose berries and black berries and if we went on the the moors we might meet a billberry.

      The reason I pick on the humble berry is because I have seen them mentioned time and time again in the science press. I use them as an example of how nutraceutical envy can start or in this case stop. I also post to put this in some form of context.

  • This is Dr. Ikuo Tsunoda, a corresponding author of the resveratrol article. Thank you for your interest. Our experimental low dose 20 mg/kg in mice is equivalent to approximately 1g per human per day (if human weigh 50 kg). Red wine contains 0.1-14.3 mg/L resveratrol. One still needs to drink about 100 L. So, it is impossible for humans to achieve this dose by drinking 100 bottles of red wine daily. On the other hand, in human clinical trials, a high dose (5g per day) has been tested in some diseases; one can achieve our experimental dose using supplemental resveratrol. Although our study discourages supplemental use of resveratrol by patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), it does not discourage ingestion of food that contains resveratrol (including red wine, grapes and peanuts). Red grapes and peanuts contain important nutrients; I would recommend eating variety of food, including red grapes and peanuts for health, rather than avoiding them. I would like to emphasize again, that our study did not discourage drinking red wine by MS patients unless one drinks 100 bottles of red wine a day. As to blue berries, they should be good for anybody including MS patients. For more information about our research, please visit our websites and facebooks:
    Home page:

    • Many thanks for your response and quite right that you wrap my (knuckles) paws. As can be seen this study points a note of caution over the use of nutraceuticals but we all love blueberries 🙂

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