Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a major and preventable cause of morbidity and death in the United States. Recently, significant research efforts have been directed at an epidemiological phenomenon known as the "French paradox." This observation refers to the coexistence of high risk factors with unanticipated low incidence of CHD, and is postulated to be associated with low-to-moderate consumption of red wine. In vivo studies have shown that red wine intake is more CHD-preventative in comparison to other alcoholic drinks; enhanced cardioprotection may be attributed to grape-derived polyphenols, e.g., resveratrol, in red wine. This review summarizes results of in vitro and animal studies showing that resveratrol exerts multifaceted cardioprotective activities, as well as evidence demonstrating the presence of proteins specifically targeted by resveratrol, as exemplified by N-ribosyldihydronicotinamide:quinone oxidoreductase, NQO2. A mechanism encompassing nongenomic and genomic effects and a research roadmap is proposed as a framework for uncovering further insights on cardioprotection by resveratrol.
© 2011 New York Academy of Sciences.