Resveratrol May Help Battle Obesity

June 18, 2008

     Resveratrol is the most beneficial compound present in the skin of red grapes and red wine. Resveratrol reduces the number of fat cells and may one day be used to treat or prevent obesity, according to a new study. The results will be presented at The Endocrine Society’s 90th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

Previous research found that Resveratrol protected laboratory mice that were fed a high-calorie diet from the health problems of obesity, by mimicking the effects of calorie restriction. Researchers at the University of Ulm in Germany wanted to know if Resveratrol could mimic the effects of calorie restriction in human fat cells by changing their size or function. The German team used a strain of human fat cell precursors, called preadipocytes. In the body, these cells develop into mature fat-laden fat cells, according to the study’s lead author, Pamela Fischer-Posovszky, PhD, a pediatric endocrinology research fellow in the university’s Diabetes and Obesity Unit.


In the cell-based study, they found that Resveratrol inhibited the pre-fat cells from increasing and prevented them from converting or swelling into mature fat cells. Also, Resveratrol hindered fat storage. Most interesting, according to Fischer-Posovszky, was that Resveratrol reduced production of certain cytokines; particular chemical messengers released from particular immune cells; in this case interleukins 6 and 8. These substances (the cytokines) are linked to the development of obesity-related disorders, such as diabetes and clogged coronary arteries. Resveratrol stimulated formation of a protein known to decrease the risk of heart attack; it is called adiponectin. Obesity decreases the level of adiponectin in the body increasing the link between obesity and disease. Adiponectin is a hormone that helps suppress metabolic derangements that may result in type 2 diabetes, obesity, atherosclerosis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The new finding is consistent with the theory that the Resveratrol in red wine explains the French paradox, the observation that French people eat a relatively high-fat diet but have a low death rate from heart disease. “Resveratrol has anti-obesity properties by exerting its effects directly on the fat cells,” Fischer-Posovszky said. “Thus, Resveratrol might help to prevent development of obesity or might be suited to treating obesity.”