Resveratrol and Depression in Animal Models: A Systematic Review of the Biological Mechanisms

Molecules. 2018 Aug 30;23(9):2197. doi: 10.3390/molecules23092197.


Depression is currently treated by pharmacotherapies that can elicit debilitating side effects for patients. Novel treatment options with limited side effects are currently being researched. Resveratrol is a polyphenol and phytoalexin found in the skins of grapes, red wine, Japanese knotweed, and peanuts. It has been studied extensively for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Resveratrol has also gained attention for its neuroprotective properties. The aim of the review was to examine the mechanisms by which resveratrol reduces depressive behaviors in animal models. In total, 22 studies met the established criteria for final review. Behavioral aspects of depression were investigated using validated measures such as the forced swimming test, tail suspension test, sucrose preference test, and open field test. While many physical measures were taken, three main biological mechanisms were explored: Regulation of the hypothalamic⁻pituitary⁻adrenal axis; decreased inflammation; and increased Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor and neurogenesis. Based on these findings, resveratrol may be deemed an effective treatment for depression in animal models at doses between 10⁻80 mg/kg/day, although higher doses had the most significant effects. Future studies should examine the effects of resveratrol on depression in humans to determine the eligibility of resveratrol as a natural antidepressant with less severe side effects.

Keywords: BDNF; anxiety; depression; inflammation; neurogenesis; resveratrol; stress.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Biomarkers
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Depression / metabolism*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Models, Biological*
  • Neural Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Neural Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Neurogenesis / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Resveratrol / pharmacology*
  • Resveratrol / therapeutic use
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Antioxidants
  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Resveratrol