Biomedical Fast Takes

Resveratrol Demonstrates Weight-Loss for Primates

The antiobesity properties of resveratrol have been shown for the first time in a primate. In a recent issue of BMC Physiology, scientists report on a study using resveratrol, which has received much interest as a dietary supplement for its promising life extension benefits.1

Working with a team of researchers to investigate the effect of the dietary supplement resveratrol on weight, metabolism, and energy intake of six gray mouse lemurs, Fabienne Aujard from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, France led the study. Dr. Aujard said, “The physiological benefits of resveratrol are currently under intensive investigation, with recent work suggesting that it could be a good candidate for the development of obesity therapies. We’ve found that lemurs eating a diet supplemented with the compound decreased their energy intake by 13% and increased their resting metabolic rate by 29%.”2

A mere four-week resveratrol supplement program decreased food intake and reduced in seasonal body-mass gain. Of interest, resveratrol also produced significant changes in the animals’ body temperatures. “These results provide novel information on the potential effects of resveratrol on energy metabolism and control of body mass in a primate,” according to Dr. Aujard.

At the End of Year One, The Controls Have It

In a prior research paper by the same authors, the first year of the study was reported. Using 38-month-old mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus), a life-long follow-up of physiological and behavioral functions was initiated to test whether caloric restriction or a compound found to mimic resveratrol could delay the aging process as well as age-related diseases. Mouse lemurs, a primate branch that broke off from our ancestors many millions of years ago, live a lot longer than the rodents that have hitherto been the highest animal life used in similar experiments.

With a potential lifespan of 12 years, mouse lemurs were assigned to three different groups: a control group fed ad libitum (as much food as they wanted to eat), a group fed 70% of the ad libitum caloric intake, and a resveratrol group given 200 mg/kg per day and fed ad libitum. Characteristically, mouse lemurs manifest a marked annual rhythm in body mass gain during winter. Consequently, the animals were tested throughout the year to assess body composition, daily energy expenditure, resting metabolic rate, physical activity, and hormonal levels.

At the end of one year, all mouse lemurs appeared in good health with the primary controls showing a significantly decreased body mass, compared with the other groups during the longer day (not winter). A control diet or resveratrol did not affect body composition. Caloric restriction induced a decrease in daily energy expenditure without changes in resting metabolic rate, whereas resveratrol induced a concomitant increase in daily energy expenditure and resting metabolic rate without any obvious modification of locomotor activity in either groups.

Hormonal levels remained similar in each group. In summary, after one year of treatment caloric restriction and resveratrol induced differential metabolic responses, but animals successfully acclimated to their imposed diets.

Winter Body-Mass Gain Reversal

In a prior study, resveratrol had been shown to protect rodents against high-fat-diet induced diabesity (diabetes caused by overweight or obesity) by boosting energy metabolism.3 No data was then available on the effects of resveratrol in non-human primates. In the BMC Physiology study, 6 non-human primates (mouse lemurs) were followed during four weeks of dietary supplementation with resveratrol (200 mg/kg per day) during their winter body-mass gain period.4 Body mass, spontaneous energy intake, resting metabolic rate, spontaneous locomotor activity, and daily variations in body temperature were measured. In addition, the plasma levels of several gut hormones involved in satiety control were evaluated.

Resveratrol reduced the seasonal (winter) body-mass gain by concomitantly decreasing energy intake by 13% and increasing resting metabolic rate by 29%. Resveratrol supplementation inhibited the depth of daily inactivity, an important energy-saving process in this primate. The daily amount of locomotor activity remained unchanged. Except for an increase in the glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide, a gut hormone known to promote mobilization of fat stores, no major change in satiety hormone plasma levels was observed under resveratrol supplementation.

These results suggest that in a non-human primate, resveratrol reduces body-mass gain by increasing satiety, and resting metabolic rate, and by inhibiting torpor expression. The measured anorectic gut hormones did not seem to play a major role in these observations.


  1. Dal-Pan A, Terrien J, Pifferi F, Botalla R, Hardy I, Marchal J, Zahariev A, Chery I, Zizzari P, Perret M, Picq JL, Epelbaum J, Blanc S, Aujard F. Caloric restriction or resveratrol supplementation and ageing in a non-human primate: first-year outcome of the RESTRIKAL study in Microcebus murinus. Age (Dordr) 2010 Jun 9. [Epub ahead of print.]
  2. Anon. Lemurs lose weight with “life-extending” supplement resveratrol. ScienceDaily, June 22, 2010.
  3. Baur JA, Pearson KJ, Price NL, Jamieson HA, Lerin C, Kalra A, Prabhu VV, Allard JS, Lopez-Lluch G, Lewis K, Pistell PJ, Poosala S, Becker KG, Boss O, Gwinn D, Wang MY, Ramaswamy S, Fishbein KW, Spencer RG, Lakatta EG, Le Couteur D, Shaw RJ, Navas P, Puigserver P, Ingram DK, de Cabo R, Sinclair DA: Resveratrol improves health and survival of mice on a highcalorie diet. Nature 2006, 444(7117):337-342.
  4. Dal-Pan A, Blanc S, Aujard F. Resveratrol suppresses body mass gain in a seasonal non-human primate model of obesity. BMC Physiol 2010 Jun 22;10:11.

FREE Subscription

  • You're just getting started! We have published thousands of scientific health articles. Stay updated and maintain your health.

    It's free to your e-mail inbox and you can unsubscribe at any time.
    Loading Indicator