Resveratrol-induced remodelling of myocellular lipid stores: A study in metabolically compromised humans

Physiol Rep. 2021 Jan;9(2):e14692. doi: 10.14814/phy2.14692.


In non-athletes, insulin sensitivity correlates negatively with intramyocellular lipid (IMCL) content. In athletes, however, a pattern of benign IMCL storage exists, which is characterized by lipid storage in type I muscle fibres, in small and numerous lipid droplets (LDs) preferable coated with PLIN5, without affecting insulin sensitivity. Administration of resveratrol has been promoted for its beneficial effects on glucose homeostasis. We observed that 30 days of oral resveratrol administration (150 mg/day) in metabolically compromised individuals showed a 33% increase in IMCL (placebo vs. resveratrol; 0.86 ± 0.090 AU vs. 1.14 ± 0.11 AU, p = 0.003) without impeding insulin sensitivity. Thus, the aim of the present study was to examine if a resveratrol-mediated increase in IMCL content, in metabolically compromised individuals, changes the LD phenotype towards the phenotype we previously observed in athletes. For this, we studied IMCL, LD number, LD size, subcellular distribution and PLIN5 coating in different fibre types using high-resolution confocal microscopy. As proof of concept, we observed a 2.3-fold increase (p = 0.038) in lipid accumulation after 48 h of resveratrol incubation in cultured human primary muscle cells. In vivo analysis showed that resveratrol-induced increase in IMCL is predominantly in type I muscle fibres (placebo vs. resveratrol; 0.97 ± 0.16% vs. 1.26 ± 0.09%; p = 0.030) in both the subsarcolemmal (p = 0.016) and intermyofibrillar region (p = 0.026) and particularly in PLIN5-coated LDs (p = 0.024). These data indicate that administration of resveratrol augments IMCL content in metabolically compromised individuals towards a LD phenotype that mimics an 'athlete like phenotype'.

Keywords: intramyocellular.

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Athletes*
  • Biopsy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / pathology
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Lipid Droplets / drug effects*
  • Lipid Droplets / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Primary Cell Culture
  • Quadriceps Muscle / drug effects*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Resveratrol / pharmacology*


  • Antioxidants
  • Resveratrol