Resveratrol primes the effects of physical activity in old mice

Br J Nutr. 2016 Sep;116(6):979-88. doi: 10.1017/S0007114516002920. Epub 2016 Aug 4.


Decrease in muscle mass and performance with ageing is one of the main factors of frailty in the elderly. Maintenance of muscle performance by involving in physical activities is essential to increase independence and quality of life among elderly. The use of natural compounds with ergogenic activity in old people would increase the effect of moderate exercises in the maintenance of physiological muscle capacity. Resveratrol (RSV), a polyphenol found in walnuts, berries and grapes, shows this ergogenic activity. By using young, mature and old mice as models, we have found that RSV improves muscle performance in mature and old animals but not in young animals. Without showing significant effect by itself, RSV primed the effect of exercise by increasing endurance, coordination and strength in old animals. This effect was accompanied by a higher protection against oxidative damage and an increase in mitochondrial mass. RSV increased catalase and superoxide dismutase protein levels in muscle and primed exercise to reverse the decrease in their activities during ageing. Furthermore, RSV increased the level of mitochondrial mass markers such as cytochrome C, mitochondrial transcription factor A and nuclear respiratory factor-1 in muscle in exercised animals. Our results indicate that RSV can be considered an ergogenic compound that helps maintain muscle performance during ageing and subsequently reduces frailty and increases muscle performance in old individuals practising moderate exercise.

Keywords: Ageing; CAT catalase; CR energy intake restriction; CytB5Rase cytochrome B5 reductase; Exercise; GPx glutathione peroxidise; Metabolism and metabolic studies; Mitochondria; Muscles; NQO1 NAD(P)H quinone dehydrogenase 1; Polyphenols; RSV resveratrol; SOD superoxide dismutase.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal*
  • Physical Endurance
  • Resveratrol
  • Stilbenes / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Stilbenes
  • Resveratrol