Resveratrol treatment delays growth plate fusion and improves bone growth in female rabbits

PLoS One. 2013 Jun 28;8(6):e67859. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067859. Print 2013.


Trans-resveratrol (RES), naturally produced by many plants, has a structure similar to synthetic estrogen diethylstilbestrol, but any effect on bone growth has not yet been clarified. Pre-pubertal ovary-intact New Zealand white rabbits received daily oral administration of either vehicle (control) or RES (200 mg/kg) until growth plate fusion occurred. Bone growth and growth plate size were longitudinally monitored by X-ray imaging, while at the endpoint, bone length was assessed by a digital caliper. In addition, pubertal ovariectomized (OVX) rabbits were treated with vehicle, RES or estradiol cypionate (positive control) for 7 or 10 weeks and fetal rat metatarsal bones were cultured in vitro with RES (0.03 µM-50 µM) and followed for up to 19 days. In ovary-intact rabbits, sixteen-week treatment with RES increased tibiae and vertebrae bone growth and subsequently improved final length. In OVX rabbits, RES delayed fusion of the distal tibia, distal femur and proximal tibia epiphyses and femur length and vertebral bone growth increased when compared with controls. Histomorphometrical analysis showed that RES-treated OVX rabbits had a wider distal femur growth plate, enlarged resting zone, increased number/size of hypertrophic chondrocytes, increased height of the hypertrophic zone, and suppressed chondrocyte expression of VEGF and laminin. In cultured fetal rat metatarsal bones, RES stimulated growth at 0.3 µM while at higher concentrations (10 μM and 50 μM) growth was inhibited. We conclude that RES has the potential to improve longitudinal bone growth. The effect was associated with a delay of growth plate fusion resulting in increased final length. These effects were accompanied by a profound suppression of VEGF and laminin expression suggesting that impairment of growth plate vascularization might be an underlying mechanism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Bone Development / drug effects*
  • Bone Development / physiology*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Chondrocytes / drug effects
  • Chondrocytes / metabolism
  • Chondrocytes / physiology
  • Female
  • Femur / drug effects
  • Femur / metabolism
  • Femur / physiology
  • Growth Plate / drug effects*
  • Growth Plate / metabolism
  • Growth Plate / physiology*
  • Laminin / metabolism
  • Ovary / drug effects
  • Ovary / metabolism
  • Rabbits
  • Resveratrol
  • Stilbenes / pharmacology*
  • Tibia / drug effects
  • Tibia / metabolism
  • Tibia / physiology
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism


  • Laminin
  • Stilbenes
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • vascular endothelial growth factor A, rat
  • Resveratrol

Grants and funding

This study was supported by the Swedish Research Council (K2007-54X-15073-04-3), Sällskapet Barnavård, Stiftelsen Frimurare Barnhuset i Stockholm, Stiftelsen Samariten and HKH Kronprinsessan Lovisas förening för Barnasjukvård. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.