Scientists Reveal Molecular Secrets Behind Resveratrol’s Health Benefits

Resveratrol has been much in the news as the component of grapes and red wine associated with reducing “bad cholesterol,” heart disease and some types of cancer. Also found in blueberries, cranberries, mulberries, peanuts and pistachios, resveratrol is associated with beneficial health effects in aging, inflammation and metabolism.

Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have now identified one of the molecular pathways that resveratrol uses to achieve its beneficial action. They found that resveratrol controls the body’s inflammatory response as a binding partner with the estrogen receptor without stimulating estrogenic cell proliferation, which is good news for its possible use as a model for drug design.

The study was recently published as an accepted manuscript in the online journal eLife, a publication supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society and the Wellcome Trust.

“Estrogen has beneficial effects on conditions like diabetes and obesity but may increase cancer risk,” said Kendall Nettles, a TSRI associate professor who led the study. “What hasn’t been well understood until now is that you can achieve those same beneficial effects with something like resveratrol.”

The problem with resveratrol, Nettles said, is that it really doesn’t work very efficiently in the body. “Now that we understand that we can do this through the estrogen receptor, there might compounds other than resveratrol out there that can do the same thing—only better,” he said.

“Our findings should lead scientists to reconsider the estrogen receptor as a main target of resveratrol—and any analogues,” said Jerome C. Nwachukwu, the first author of the study and a research associates in the Nettles laboratory. “It has gotten swept under the rug.”

In the new study, Nettles, Nwachukwu and their colleagues found that resveratrol is an effective inhibitor of interleukin 6 (IL-6), a pro-inflammatory protein that is part of the immune system (although IL-6 can be anti-inflammatory during exercise). High levels of IL-6 are also associated with poor breast cancer patient survival. According to the study, resveratrol regulates IL-6 without stimulating cell proliferation by altering a number of co-regulators of the estrogen receptor.

In addition to Nwachukwu and Nettles, other authors of the study, “Resveratrol Modulates the Inflammatory Response via An Estrogen Receptor-Signal Integration Network,” include Sathish Srinivasan, Nelson E. Bruno , Travis S. Hughes, Julie A. Pollock, Olsi Gjyshi, Valerie Cavett, Jason Nowak, Ruben D. Garcia-Ordonez , Patrick R. Griffin, Douglas J. Kojetin and  Michael D. Conkright  of TSRI; Alex A. Parent and John A. Katzenellenbogen of the University of Illinois; and René Houtman of PamGene International, The Netherlands. For more information, see

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants PHS 5R37DK015556; 5R33CA132022, 5R01DK077085, 1U01GM102148, R01DK101871 and F32DK097890), the Ballen Isles Men’s Golf Association, the Frenchman’s Creek Women for Cancer Research, the State of Florida and the James and Esther King Biomedical Research Program, Florida Department of Health (1KN-09).

The material in this press release comes from the originating research organization. Content may be edited for style and length. Have a question? Let us know.


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10 thoughts on “Scientists Reveal Molecular Secrets Behind Resveratrol’s Health Benefits”

  1. It is great to see how a natural thing like Resveratrol can have so many different benefits for us. I can already imagine a brighter future with this discovery.

    Rooibos tea also has some of these benefits, although I would much rather prefer a glass of red wine over a cup of tea.

  2. It is very interesting to see how a naturally occurring molecule such as Resveratrol can have so many beneficial effects on our bodies, including anti-inflammatory actions as well as the lowering of cholesterol in the blood and arteries.

    It has long been known that those who have a high intake of the substance have had better health in general, and this can be seen when looking at the French and their high red wine intake. It is very encouraging to know that we have discovered the molecular pathway in which the molecule acts.

    Thanks to the uncovering of such knowledge, we may now in fact see this information aid in bettering our everyday diets and possibly even some advances in the medical field.

  3. One of the great informative article posted. It is most valuable to be availed for the public, such that anyone in suspect of any heath problems concerned with cholesterol are now aware that the treat is not as complex. It is not strength-taking to try and maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating fruits like grapes every now and then that would figuratively benefit the body as treatment of Resveratrol. For anyone really concerned with their health, this is a good post to follow up on, well researched and with tempting expectation that scientists are put into task to add up and confirm on this Resveratrol benefits.

  4. Patrick J. Skerrett, Executive Editor, Harvard Health wrote in an article published in Harvard Medical School Publication in 2012: “Resveratrol acts on many different tissues in the body. It is chemically related to estrogen. In some situations, high doses of resveratrol boost the activity of estrogen, in others they block estrogen.”

    In this blog, it is only mentioned that “it (Resveratrol – own insertion) really doesn’t work very efficiently in the body”. The writer does not elaborate and it would be interesting to know more, specially in view of the comments of Skerrett that it has an influence on many different tissues. What are the negatives in both instances?

    The findings reflected in this blog also seems to be in direct opposition to the findings mentioned in the Harvard Medical Publication – one mentions unstable results pertaining to levels of Estrogen where dosages of Resveratrol are concerned and the other that there are no “estrogenic cell proliferation”. Is the latest research conclusive enough to dispel the foregoing?

    It furthermore seems as though two directions are up for further studies:
    1. To search for a replacement for Resveratrol since there is a better understanding of how it works;
    2. To find another receptor as a target for Resveratrol to steer clear of Estrogen altogether.
    It would be interesting to see what the final way forward will be.

    Thank you for the interesting article.

  5. The fact that resveratrol has the same benefits oestrogen but is less hazardous to the human life is amazing. The advances in this study will lead to bigger things such as the manufacturing of drugs which will inhibit inflammatory diseases, lower “bad”cholesterol and help fight of Alzheimer’s and heart disease. Pretty soon we will have the fountain of youth in a pill.

  6. This study has just validated how resveratrol is much more beneficial to us than oestrogen. This discovery will lead to the manufacturing of drugs which will inhibit inflammatory diseases, lower cholesterol and help fight of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease.The advances in this study will lead to bigger things, soon we will have the fountain of youth in a pill.

  7. This is another confirmation that the Mediterranean diet is indeed beneficial to health. People living in the Mediterranean district are well known for their high intake of red wine. It was found that people living in this area had lower cholesterol levels, better immune systems and less chronic diseases, compared to those living in areas with lower consumption of red wine. This might be directly linked to the fact that red wine contains cholesterol lowering, anti-inflammatory and immune boosting resveratrol. It is however important to remember that red wine has a very high alcohol content that is very bad for heath, thus red wine should still be enjoyed in moderation. Resveratrol in other fruit and nuts should perhaps be better promoted, because in the media resveratrol is usually only associated with grapes and red wine. The fact that resveratrol can have the same beneficial effects on health as estrogen without the cancer risk associated with estrogen is a brilliant discovery.

  8. Many theories regarding redwine and its effects have been made over the years but most haven’t been proven.
    This study answered the questions that previous ideas left uncertain. It is fascinating how resveratrol found in ordinary foods can have such big impact on the human body when it partners up with hormones such as estrogen. This study can help improve lifes and holds many potential opportunities for further studies in this spesific topic.

  9. I know people have told me that red wine helps with bad cholesterol, but I did not know it was a proven fact. I did not know why this was so, hence did I not know there are so many other fruit with the same properties. Thank you for the extra information link although I did not understand all the detail it gives more clarity to this interesting findings.


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