Red Wine a Weapon in Battle of the Bulge
Health Benefits of Resveratrol May Include Fighting Fat, Study Shows
WebMD News Archive
June 17, 2008 -- An antioxidant found in red wine and grapes known as
resveratrol -- already thought to help keep the heart healthy and ward off cancer -- may also turn out to
be a fat fighter, according to new research.
In the laboratory, exposure to resveratrol prevented pre-fat cells, termed
pre-adipocytes, from increasing and from converting into mature fat cells,
according to Martin Wabitsch, MD, PhD, a researcher from the University of Ulm
in Ulm, Germany. Wabitsch presented the findings this week at ENDO 08, The
Endocrine Society's 90th annual meeting in San Francisco.
"We have to show it works in the same way in human beings," Wabitsch
The hope, he says, is to continue the research and, if it bears out, develop
drugs that will use the same mechanism as the
resveratrol in controlling the fat cells.
Health Benefits of Resveratrol: Study Details
In previous research, Wabitsch and his colleagues had found that the
resveratrol protected lab mice fed a high-calorie diet
from the health problems brought on by obesity by mimicking the effects of caloric
So the next step, they thought, was to see if the substance could mimic the
effects of caloric restriction in human fat cells by changing them.
"We used a human fat cell strain," Wabitsch says, a stable cell
strain that can be used over and over in the laboratory.
They exposed some fat cells to resveratrol and did not expose a comparison
group of fat cells to the antioxidant. "Forty hours is the normal doubling
time [of pre-fat cells]," Wabitsch says. "At 48 hours, the pre-fat
cells in the control dish had more than doubled. In the resveratrol dish, the
number of pre-fat cells had decreased by 40% to 45%," he tells WebMD.
The volume of fat cells exposed to the resveratrol was also less, he says,
in effect producing skinnier fat cells. Exposure to the resveratrol also
reduced the secretion of substances called interleukin 6 and 8, which may be
linked to the development of diabetes and clogged arteries, both thought to be
Wabitsch says the finding is consistent with the theory that red wine's
resveratrol explains the so-called French paradox -- the observation that
French people, who eat a relatively high-fat diet but enjoy their red wine,
have a low death rate from heart