Heart study seeks healthy volunteers

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Carol Sorgen

Resveratrol is a compound found in the leaves and skin of grapes, in peanuts, and in the roots of the Japanese knotweed plant. It became popularly known in the 1990s, when researchers began to suspect that resveratrol may be the major reason for the positive effect of wine on cardiovascular health.

Since then, studies have found that resveratrol has a number of biological effects on blood vessels, cancer, blood sugar control, muscle activity and inflammation.

Studies are also being conducted to explore whether resveratrol might have a positive effect on the aging process through its action on a class of proteins in the body called sirtuins, which affect metabolism.

Though resveratrol has been extensively studied in test tubes, cells and animals, it is only now being explored fully in people. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) is currently conducting a study at Baltimore’s Harbor Hospital to test the effects of different doses of resveratrol on heart and blood vessel health in healthy volunteers.

In prior animal studies, conducted by NIA in monkeys and rats, findings demonstrated a reduction in the stiffness of blood vessels over several weeks. The compound appears to have no harmful effects at doses up to 5 grams per day.

What the study entails

Those taking part in the study will be separated into three groups. Two groups will take different dose levels of the study drug. The third group will take a placebo (inactive ingredient).

The study involves five visits over a period of about 13 months. At the first visit, participants will undergo a physical exam and the researchers will take a medical history, blood and urine samples.

Participants who qualify for the study on the screening visit will be given a list of foods to avoid eating while participating in it, and will be scheduled for further visits.

The second visit will be within 60 days of the screening visit, while the remaining visits will be approximately 16 weeks apart. Visits 2, 4 and 5 require an overnight stay at the NIA clinical unit located at Harbor Hospital, 3001 S. Hanover St. Meals will be provided during the overnight visits.

Testing that will be done includes blood, urine samples and EKG’s. Body scans include a two-hour MRI scan to measure fat and muscle mass, and a bone density (DEXA) scan. Participants will also have exercise tests (treadmill, strength testing) and a muscle biopsy. The third visit will be a two-hour outpatient visit.

Compensation offered

There is no cost to participants for testing done during the study. In addition, volunteers will be compensated up to $1,280 for completing all study visits.

To be eligible to participate in the study, you must be age 50 or older. Your body mass index (BMI) must be between 25 and 35. You should not currently be on blood pressure or cholesterol medications. You must not have any history of diabetes, heart failure, liver or kidney disease. You may not currently use tobacco products.

If you or someone you know may qualify, contact Sierra Kunkoski at (410) 350-3941, or email niastudiesrecruitment@mail.nih.gov for more information.