Background: Resveratrol may possess life-prolonging and health-benefitting properties, some of which may resemble the effect of caloric restriction (CR). CR appears to prolong the lifespan of model organisms in some studies and may benefit human health. However, for humans, restricting food intake for an extended period of time seems impracticable and substances imitating the beneficial effects of CR without having to reduce food intake could improve health in an aging and overweight population.
Methods: We have reviewed the literature studying the influence of resveratrol on the lifespan of model organisms including yeast, flies, worms, and rodents. We summarize the in vivo findings, describe modulations of molecular targets and gene expression observed in vivo and in vitro, and discuss how these changes may contribute to lifespan extension. Data from clinical studies are summarized to provide an insight about the potential of resveratrol supplementation in humans.
Results: Resveratrol supplementation has been shown to prolong lifespan in approximately 60% of the studies conducted in model organisms. However, current literature is contradictory, indicating that the lifespan effects of resveratrol vary strongly depending on the model organism. While worms and killifish seemed very responsive to resveratrol, resveratrol failed to affect lifespan in the majority of the studies conducted in flies and mice. Furthermore, factors such as dose, gender, genetic background and diet composition may contribute to the high variance in the observed effects.
Conclusion: It remains inconclusive whether resveratrol is indeed a CR mimetic and possesses life-prolonging properties. The limited bioavailability of resveratrol may further impede its potential effects.