Resveratrol: anti-obesity mechanisms of action

Molecules. 2014 Nov 14;19(11):18632-55. doi: 10.3390/molecules191118632.


Resveratrol is a non-flavonoid polyphenol which belongs to the stilbenes group and is produced naturally in several plants in response to injury or fungal attack. Resveratrol has been recently reported as preventing obesity. The present review aims to compile the evidence concerning the potential mechanisms of action which underlie the anti-obesity effects of resveratrol, obtained either in cultured cells lines and animal models. Published studies demonstrate that resveratrol has an anti-adipogenic effect. A good consensus concerning the involvement of a down-regulation of C/EBPα and PPARγ in this effect has been reached. Also, in vitro studies have demonstrated that resveratrol can increase apoptosis in mature adipocytes. Furthermore, different metabolic pathways involved in triacylglycerol metabolism in white adipose tissue have been shown to be targets for resveratrol. Both the inhibition of de novo lipogenesis and adipose tissue fatty acid uptake mediated by lipoprotein lipase play a role in explaining the reduction in body fat which resveratrol induces. As far as lipolysis is concerned, although this compound per se seems to be unable to induce lipolysis, it increases lipid mobilization stimulated by β-adrenergic agents. The increase in brown adipose tissue thermogenesis, and consequently the associated energy dissipation, can contribute to explaining the body-fat lowering effect of resveratrol. In addition to its effects on adipose tissue, resveratrol can also acts on other organs and tissues. Thus, it increases mitochondriogenesis and consequently fatty acid oxidation in skeletal muscle and liver. This effect can also contribute to the body-fat lowering effect of this molecule.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / metabolism*
  • Adipocytes / pathology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipogenesis / drug effects*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Obesity* / drug therapy
  • Obesity* / metabolism
  • Obesity* / pathology
  • PPAR gamma / biosynthesis
  • Resveratrol
  • Stilbenes / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Proteins
  • CEBPA protein, human
  • Fatty Acids
  • PPAR gamma
  • Stilbenes
  • Resveratrol