Editor-in-Chief: Emilio Jirillo Universitá degli Studi di Bari Dipartimento di Clinica Medica Immunologia e Malattie Infettive Sezione di Microbiologia e Immunologia Piazza Giulio Cesare-Policlinico Bari Italy
Affiliation: Molecular and Cellular Pathology Lab, IRCCS San Raffaele Pisana, Via di Val Cannuta, 247, 00166 - Rome, Italy.
The beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet (MD) had been first observed about 50 years ago. Consumption of fresh vegetables and fruits, cereals, red wine, nuts, legumes, etc. has been regarded as the primary factor for protection from many human pathologies by the Mediterranean diet. Subsequently, this was attributed to the presence of polyphenols and their derivatives that, by exerting an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effect, can be involved in the prevention of many diseases. Clinical trials, observational studies and meta-analysis have demonstrated an antiageing effect of MD accompanied by a reduced risk of age-related pathologies, such as cardiovascular, metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases, as well as cancer. The scientific explanation of such beneficial effects was limited to the reduction of the oxidative stress by compounds present in the MD.
However, recently, this view is changing thanks to new studies aimed to uncover the molecular mechanism(s) activated by components of this diet. In particular, a new class of proteins called sirtuins have gained the attention of the scientific community because of their antiageing effects, their ability to protect from cardiovascular, metabolic, neurodegenerative diseases, cancer and to extend lifespan in lower organisms as well as in mammals. Interestingly, resveratrol a polyphenol present in grapes, nuts and berries has been shown to activate sirtuins and such activation is able to explain most of the beneficial effects of the MD.
In this review, we will highlight the importance of MD with particular attention to the possible molecular pathways that have been shown to be influenced by it. We will describe the state of the art leading to demonstrate the important role of sirtuins as principal intracellular mediators of the beneficial effects of the MD. Finally, we will also introduce how Mediterranean diet may influence microbioma composition and stem cells function.