Resveratrol, a compound present in grapes and red wine, reduces the number of fat cells and may one day be used to treat or prevent obesity,
according to a new study.
Past 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 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 into mature fat cells.
Also, resveratrol hindered fat storage. Most interesting, according to Fischer-Posovszky, was that resveratrol reduced production of certain cytokines
(interleukins 6 and 8), substances that may be linked to the development of obesity-related disorders, such as diabetes and clogged coronary arteries.
Also, resveratrol stimulated formation of a protein known to decrease the risk of heart attack. Obesity decreases this substance, called adiponectin.
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.
* Reproduced with permission from Peter Svans at The Gurdies Winery