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Resveratrol Helps Lemurs Lose Weight

The compound from red wine boosts metabolism in primates.
June 22, 2010

Score another point for resveratrol, the red wine compound that has captured headlines for its potential life-extending benefits. The molecule, which extends lifespan in worms and flies and has other health benefits in rodents, may also help weight loss. New research shows it decreases food intake and boosts metabolism in lemurs, small primates endemic to Madagascar.

According to a press release from the open access journal BMC Physiology, where the work was published,

Fabienne Aujard, from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, France, worked with a team of researchers to investigate the effect of dietary supplementation with resveratrol on the weight, metabolism and energy intake of six mouse lemurs. She said, “The physiological benefits of resveratrol are currently under intensive investigation, with recent work suggesting that it could be a good candidate for the development of obesity therapies. We’ve found that lemurs eating a diet supplemented with the compound decreased their energy intake by 13% and increased their resting metabolic rate by 29%”.

The researchers demonstrated that a four-week resveratrol supplementation was associated with a decrease in food intake and a reduction in seasonal body-mass gain. The response to resveratrol supplementation also involved significant changes in the animals’ body temperatures. According to Dr Aujard, “These results provide novel information on the potential effects of resveratrol on energy metabolism and control of body mass in a primate”.

Previous research has shown that resveratrol can combat the ill-effects of obesity in rodents fed a high-fat diet. But the doses used in both rodent and the lemur studies are too high to be replicated in humans; the equivalent dose for an average person would be about 14 grams per day. Sirtris, a Massachusetts company owned by GlaxoSmithKline, is developing compounds thought to mimic the molecular effects of the resveratrol more potently. One compound is currently in clinical trials for type 2 diabetes. (For more on Sirtris, see The Argument over Aging in TR’s July 2010 issue.)

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