Resveratrol for Primary Prevention of Atherosclerosis: Clinical Trial Evidence

Reserveratrol and artherosclerosis

Reserveratrol prevents artherosclerosis


Resveratrol is a compound found in foods such as grape skins, and is therefore present in red wine often flaunted for its anti-aging properties and heart health benefits. The essence that has become tantamount with red wine’s health benefits was first isolated from the roots of a flowering plant, white hellebore in 1940.

Since then many studies have detailed the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of resveratrol. It may keep blood from clotting, much like aspirin and there is evidence that it relaxes blood vessels and keeps cholesterol and tri­glycerides from forming the arterial lesions.

In addition, resveratrol has the potential to manage diabetes, one of the most exciting areas of research. People with diabetes are encouraged to keep a careful eye on their diet and exercise as ways to manage their blood sugar levels apart from diabetes drugs and/or insulin.

Another alternative for help with blood sugar management is natural supplements, such as vitamins, phytonutrients, herbs and resveratrol could be one of those supplements. Though resveratrol’s potential utility in preventive medicine has been demonstrated using animal models, few clinical trials have evaluated the effects of resveratrol on gene expression or clinically relevant biomarkers in healthy individuals.

Trials evaluating cardiovascular risk generally measure plasma inflammatory biomarkers, but do not consider how components in plasma may interactively drive convergent endothelial cellular responses that contribute to the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, including release of chemokines, such as IL-8 and activation of Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule (VCAM) and Intercellular Adhesion Molecule (ICAM).

The clinical trials conducted by Dr. Agarwal from University of Pennsylvania evaluated the effects of one month resveratrol treatment on endothelial response and plasma biomarkers in healthy individuals using a novel unbiased assay to assess the overall inflammatory capacity of plasma on expression of genes associated with inflammation and atherosclerosis.

This double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial comprised 44 healthy subjects where subjects took either RESV (400 mg trans-resveratrol, 400 mg grapeskin extract, and 100 mg quercetin) or a cellulose placebo (PLA) for 30 days and were instructed to report side effects. Authors report that altered plasma composition leading to decreased expression of endothelial cell ICAM, VCAM and IL-8 may be an important mechanism contributing to resveratrol’s beneficial effects on cardiovascular function. Further, RESV may reduce inflammatory biomarkers in individuals whose inflammatory biomarkers are already within normal limits, as demonstrated by decreases in plasma IFN-γ and insulin.

These data published in the International Journal of Cardiology, are the first to indicate that resveratrol may have protective effects against atherosclerosis in individuals who would not be considered high risk with the current screening criteria, suggesting that resveratrol could receive consideration as a primary preventive agent. The authors are in the process of designing and conducting a large-scale trial examining the effects of resveratrol supplementation to identify mechanisms of clinical benefits and how these effects can be maximized.



  1. Resveratrol for primary prevention of atherosclerosis: Clinical trial evidence for improved gene expression in vascular endothelium; International Journal of Cardiology.
  2. Bhatt JK et al. Resveratrol supplementation improves glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus Nutrition Research 2012 Aug.


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