Resveratrol, the chemical compound found in red wine and an increasing target of medical research, can limit obesity by preventing the development of fat cells, according to a study presented Monday at the Endocrine Society's 90th-annual meeting in San Francisco. A team of scientists from the University of Ulm, located in southwest Germany, report that resveratrol shows potential as a fat-fighting supplement, by both preventing weight gain and stopping some of the health problems caused by obesity.
The findings echo previous research where resveratrol supplements helped keep obese mice healthy.
"Resveratrol has anti-obesity properties by exerting its effects directly on the fat cells," said Pamela Fischer-Posovszky, a pediatric endocrinology research fellow at the university's diabetes and obesity unit. "Resveratrol might help to prevent development of obesity or might be suited to treating obesity."
During their research, Fischer-Posovszky and her team isolated human stem-cell lines, called preadipocytes. These fibrous tissues eventually mature into adipocytes, which store energy and insulate the body in the form of fat.
The scientists exposed the preadipocytes to various doses of resveratrol and observed that the chemical hindered the maturation of the cells into adipocytes. The resveratrol also reduced the cells' production of certain proteins linked to the development of obesity-related disorders, such as type 2 diabetes and clogged arteries. Furthermore, the resveratrol stimulated the production of a metabolism-regulating protein, called adiponectin, which decreases the risk of heart attack. People who are obese are typically adiponectin deficient.
The dosage of resveratrol used in the study is equivalent to consuming several bottles of wine, suggesting that supplements would be more effective than wine consumption in fighting fat. And the effects of the resveratol were dose-dependent, meaning the more resveratrol used, the better the results.
Fischer-Posovszky is pleased with the results but warns that "you have to keep in mind that there might be adverse effects," she said. "So far, there are no reliable studies on resveratrol in humans."