Editors' ChoiceAsthma

No More Gasping for Air with GSPE

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Science Translational Medicine  15 Aug 2012:
Vol. 4, Issue 147, pp. 147ec148
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3004726

If you eat grape seeds, vines will grow in your stomach, or so says an old wives’ tale. Although eating some seeds may be harmful, researchers are now discovering that health benefits of eating grapes may actually come from their seeds. In fact, proanthocyanidins found in the grape seeds have greater antioxidant activity than other well-known antioxidants like vitamins C and E. Recent research has supported the important role of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of asthma, which affects some 22 million Americans. Indeed, severe asthma and enhanced oxidative stress have been linked to steroid insensitivity, persistent inflammation, and airway remodeling, all of which result in decreased lung function.

Lee et al. further investigated the connection between oxidative stress and asthma severity by examining whether grape seed proanthocyanidin extract (GSPE) has a therapeutic effect on allergic airway inflammation in acute and chronic murine models of asthma. The authors found that GSPE treatment reduced airway inflammation, airway hyperresponsiveness, and oxidative stress. In addition, airway fibrosis, one of the most important components of airway remodeling in asthma, was reduced in the GSPE-treated chronic asthma model as compared with controls.

The results of this study suggest that GSPE may be effective in reducing the inflammation and alleviating airway remodeling, probably because of its antioxidant properties. Although further animal and clinical studies are needed to confirm these findings and clearly identify the mechanism of GSPE effects, this study illustrates a novel therapeutic potential of GSPE in asthma.

T. Lee et al., Grape seed proanthocyanidin extract attenuates allergic inflammation in murine models of asthma. J. Clin. Immunol., 27 July 2012 (10.1007/s10875-012-9742-8). [PubMed]

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