An antioxidant derived from grapes and found in wine could work as a new acne treatment, UCLA researchers announced today.
Researchers found that combining resveratrol with the common acne medication benzoyl peroxide may enhance the drug’s ability to kill the bacteria that causes acne and could translate into new treatments.
The results, published in the current online edition of the journal Dermatology and Therapy, demonstrate that resveratrol and benzoyl peroxide attack the acne bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes, in different ways.
“We initially thought that since actions of the two compounds are opposing, the combination should cancel the other out, but they didn’t,” said Dr. Emma Taylor, the study’s first author and an assistant clinical professor of medicine in the division of dermatology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
“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,” she said.
Resveratrol is the same substance that has prompted some doctors to recommend that adults drink red wine for its heart-health properties. The antioxidant stops the formation of free radicals, which cause cell and tissue damage. Benzoyl peroxide is an oxidant that works by creating free radicals that kill the acne bacteria.
Scientists have understood for years how benzoyl peroxide works to treat acne, but less has been known about what makes resveratrol effective — even though it has been the subject of previous studies.
Using a high-powered microscope, UCLA researchers observed that bacteria cells lost some of the structure and definition of their outer membranes, which indicated that resveratrol may work by altering and possibly weakening the structure of the bacteria, according to the study.
Researchers also cultured human skin cells and blood cells with the two compounds to test their toxicity, finding that benzoyl peroxide was much more toxic than resveratrol, which could help explain what causes skin to become red and irritated when it’s used as a topical treatment in high dose or concentration, according to the study.
“It was like combining the best of both worlds and offering a two-pronged attack on the bacteria,” said senior author Dr. Jenny Kim, professor of clinical medicine in the division of dermatology at the Geffen School.