Natural protection against radiation

May 5, 2011

Radioactive contamination from the Fukushima power plant (credit: TEPCO/EPA)

A substance similar to resveratrol (an antioxidant found in red wine, grapes, and nuts) could protect against radiation sickness, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have discovered.

The researchers studied whether resveratrol could protect against radiation injuries resulting from exposure to accidents such as the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in Japan or from radiation therapy for cancer.

They found that resveratrol protected cells in flasks but did not protect live mice from radiation damage. A similar natural product called acetyl resveratrol, however, did protect the mice. Acetyl resveratrol can be produced easily in large quantities and given orally, the researchers said. Further research is required to determine whether acetyl resveratrol is effective when orally administered, the researchers said.

Kazunori Koide, Sami Osman, Amanda L. Garner, Fengling Song, Tracy Dixon, Joel S. Greenberger, Michael W. Epperly, The Use of 3,5,4′-Tri-O-acetylresveratrol as a Potential Prodrug for Resveratrol Protects Mice from γ-Irradiation-Induced Death, ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 2011; 2 (4): 270 DOI: 10.1021/ml100159p