Resveratrol is a phenolic derivative found in certain plants, peanuts and in the skin of black grapes. It is found in significant quantities in red wine. The results obtained by this research demonstrate how resveratrol improves energy expenditure in mice and protects them against obesity and diabetes.
The study was headed by Johan Auwerx, Professor at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology (3). At the macroscopic level, researchers have noticed that a dietary supplement of resveratrol had a considerable effect on the muscles of mice. In the presence of resveratrol, muscle fibres display a high oxygen consumption and therefore high energy expenditure during exercise, where they exhibit a surprising level of endurance, as well as during periods of inactivity.
At the molecular level, the researchers have studied the signalling pathway taking part in this process, leading them to the mitochondrion (4). This organelle, found in large numbers within muscle cells is responsible for energy production. They observed that resveratrol activates a protein from the Sirtuin (5) family (SIRT1) which then leads to an increased activity of another protein involved in mitochondrial function. By acting on the mitochondria, resveratrol enhances energy expenditure and therefore the reduction in weight gain.
Furthermore, this study links sirtuins with energy expenditure and raises the possibility of using SIRT1 activators as a means of prevention or treatment of metabolic disorders. For this reason, the sirtuins reveal themselves as attractive pharmacological targets. From a therapeutic point of view they would be potentially beneficial in certain pathologies related to mitochondrial dysfunction, which is often the case for disorders associated with aging such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
In order to substantiate these results in humans, the company Sirtris pharmaceuticals have just started a clinical trial on diabetes using SRT501, a confidential formulation of resveratrol which has better bioavailability (6).
1 Group of Pere Puigserver, at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School, Boston.
2 Group of Markku Laakso at the University of Kuopio in Finland.
3 Institut de génétique et de biologie moléculaire et cellulaire (IGBMC): UMR 7104 / UMR_S 596. Joint ULP / CNRS / Inserm research unit.
4 Mitochondrion: Intracellular organelle where the energy provided by organic molecules is generated and stored. The mitochondrion is the energy powerhouse of the cell
5 Sirtuins : Recently discovered family of enzymes contributing to the healthy functioning of the cell.
6 Bioavailability: capacity of a substance to be absorbed by body tissue
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