Grape Antioxidants Could Provide Critical New Acne Treatment

First Posted: Sep 30, 2014 03:33 PM EDT

UCLA researchers have discovered a key antioxidant found in grapes that could work as an treatment for those suffering from acne. The findings are published in the journal Dermatology and Therapy.

"We initially thought that since actions of the two compounds are opposing, the combination should cancel the other out, but they didn't," said lead study author Dr. Emma Taylor, an assistant clinical professor of medicine in the division of dermatology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in a news release. "This study demonstrates that combining an oxidant and an antioxidant may enhance each other and help sustain bacteria-fighting activity over a longer period of time."

Researchers found that by combining resveratrol with a common acne medication, benzoyl peroxide, this could work to enhance the drug's ability to kill the bacteria and translate into potential new treatments; this is also a substance that has prompted many doctors to recommend that adults drink red wine for heart-health properties.

For the study, researchers grew colonies of the bacteria that causes acne and then added various concentrations of resveratrol and benzoyl peroxide both alone and together. The researchers monitored the cultures for bacterial growth or killing for 10 days.

Findings revealed that benzoyl peroxide was able to initially kill the bacteria at all concentration levels but the effect was short lived as it didn't last beyond the first 24 hours.

Furthermore, resveratrol didn't hold a strong killing capability to inhibit bacterial growth for a longer period of time, with two compounds together proving to be the most effective in reducing bacterial counts.

"It was like combining the best of both worlds and offering a two-pronged attack on the bacteria," added senior author Dr. Jenny Kim, professor of clinical medicine in the division of dermatology at the Geffen School.

With the help of a high-powered microscope, researchers observed bacteria cells and their structure and definition of outer membranes, indicating that resveratrol may work by altering and possibly weakening the structure of the bacteria.

They also cultured human skin cells and blood cells with the two compounds to test toxicity levels.

Findings revealed that benzoyl peroxide was more toxic than resveratrol, which could help explain what causes skin to become red and less irritating to topical acne therapy.

Researchers said their next stage of research, now, is to better understand the mechanism of the two compounds and further validate findings in future patients.

"We hope that our findings lead to a new class of acne therapies that center on antioxidants such as resveratrol," Taylor concluded.

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