Is resveratrol an estrogen agonist in growing rats?

Endocrinology. 1999 Jan;140(1):50-4. doi: 10.1210/endo.140.1.6460.


Trans-3,4,5-trihydroxystilbene (resveratrol), a polyphenolic compound found in juice and wine from dark-skinned grape cultivars, was recently shown to bind to estrogen receptors in vitro, where it activated transcription of estrogen-responsive reporter genes. The purpose of this 6-day study in weanling rats was to determine the dose response (1, 4, 10, 40, and 100 microg/day) effects of orally administered resveratrol on estrogen target tissues. The solvent (10% ethanol) had no significant effect on any measurement or derived value. 17Beta-estradiol treatment (100 microg/day) decreased the growth rate, final body weight, serum cholesterol, and radial bone growth (periosteal bone formation and mineral apposition rates) at the tibia-fibula synostosis. In the uterus, 17beta-estradiol treatment increased wet weight, epithelial cell height, and steady state messenger RNA levels for insulin-like growth factor I. In contrast, resveratrol treatment had no significant effect on body weight, serum cholesterol, radial bone growth, epithelial cell height, or messenger RNA levels for insulin-like growth factor I. Resveratrol treatment resulted in slight increases in uterine wet weight, but significance was achieved at the 10-microg dose only. A second experiment was performed to determine whether a high dose of resveratrol (1000 microg/day) antagonizes the ability of estrogen to lower serum cholesterol. As was shown for the lower doses, resveratrol had no effect on body weight, uterine wet weight, uterine epithelial cell height, cortical bone histomorphometry, or serum cholesterol. 17Beta-estradiol significantly lowered serum cholesterol, and this response was antagonized by cotreatment with resveratrol. These in vivo results suggest, in contrast to prior in vitro studies, that resveratrol has little or no estrogen agonism on reproductive and nonreproductive estrogen target tissues and may be an estrogen antagonist.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Estradiol / pharmacology
  • Estrogens / agonists*
  • Female
  • Growth / drug effects*
  • Growth / physiology
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Resveratrol
  • Stilbenes / administration & dosage
  • Stilbenes / pharmacology*
  • Uterus / drug effects
  • Weaning


  • Estrogens
  • Stilbenes
  • Estradiol
  • Cholesterol
  • Resveratrol