Resveratrol Improves Vascular Function and Mitochondrial Number but Not Glucose Metabolism in Older Adults

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2017 Nov 9;72(12):1703-1709. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glx041.


Background: Resveratrol, a plant-derived polyphenol, has been reported to improve glucose metabolism and vascular function and to extend life span in animal models, but studies in humans have been inconclusive.

Methods: In a randomized, double-blind crossover study, we treated older glucose-intolerant adults (n = 30) with resveratrol (2-3 g/daily) or placebo, each for 6 weeks. A standard mixed-meal test was used to assess insulin sensitivity (Matsuda index) and secretion (C-peptide deconvolution) and vascular function by reactive hyperemia peripheral arterial tonometry. Skeletal muscle samples were obtained for gene expression using RNA-Seq analysis and to assess mitochondrial morphology.

Results: There were no changes in glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, weight, blood pressure, or lipid profile following resveratrol treatment. Fasting reactive hyperemia index improved with resveratrol (2.02 ± 0.2 vs 1.76 ± 0.02, p = .002). RNA-Seq analysis yielded 140 differentially expressed transcripts (corrected p-value ≤ .05), predominantly associated with mitochondrial genes and noncoding RNA. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis confirmed that mitochondrial dysfunction (p = 2.77 × 10-12) and oxidative phosphorylation (p = 1.41 × 10-11) were the most significantly perturbed pathways. Mitochondrial number, but not size, was increased.

Conclusions: Resveratrol treatment of older adults with impaired glucose regulation may have beneficial effects on vascular function, but not glucose metabolism or insulin sensitivity. Changes in gene expression suggest effects similar to those observed with caloric restriction, which has been shown to increase life and health span in animal models, although its significance for humans is uncertain. Future human studies should address the appropriate dose range and low bioavailability of resveratrol.

Keywords: Aging; Gene expression; Polyphenols; Prediabetes.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology*
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolism / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria / physiology*
  • Resveratrol
  • Stilbenes / pharmacology*


  • Stilbenes
  • Glucose
  • Resveratrol