Paris, 23 June 2010

An "anti-ageing" compound reduces weight gain in primates

Resveratrol is a natural substance that is widely studied, for its anti-ageing properties among other things. For the first time, work by a team in the "Mécanismes adaptatifs : des organismes aux communautés" Laboratory (CNRS/Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle) has revealed that this compound reduces weight gain in lemurs. Such findings provide new information regarding the effects of resveratrol on energy metabolism and the control of body mass in primates. They may give a clearer understanding of the factors that govern obesity in humans. This study is published on 22 June 2010 in BMC Physiology.

Resveratrol is a polyphenolic(1) compound that is present in certain fruits, such as grape skins, blackberries and peanuts, etc. This compound has been widely studied, notably regarding its effects on ageing, as it has demonstrated that it can increase longevity in numerous animal models. This natural substance also improves the health and survival of mice fed a hyperlipidic diet, but until now, no studies had been performed on primates in this field.

The team led by Fabienne Aujard in the "Mécanismes adaptatifs : des organismes aux communautés" Laboratory (CNRS/Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle) has studied the effects of resveratrol on the metabolism of grey mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus).  With a lifespan of 8 to 10 years, this small primate is a heterotherm(2) lemur, which is an animal model for studies on ageing.  It displays very pronounced seasonal physiological rhythms: its metabolism and body weight fluctuate on a seasonal basis.  The researchers added resveratrol to the feed of the lemurs (200 mg per kilo and per day), while regularly measuring their body temperature, weight gain and resting metabolic rate(3).  After four weeks, they observed an immediate effect: the animals had reduced their food intake by 13% and increased their resting metabolic rate (which represents a proportion of their energy expenditure) by 29%.

The ingestion of resveratrol thus enabled the lemurs to considerably reduce their weight gain at a time of the year when they have a natural tendency to increase their body mass so as to store as much energy as possible before the mating season. In addition, modifications to the body temperature of treated animals were observed, suggesting that  resveratrol might also modify the energy strategies developed by this heterotherm primate.  This effect, which is not observed in rodents, may thus be specific to primates. Furthermore, the short-term findings of this study were recently confirmed by the initial results of Fabienne Aujard's team as part of a project entitled "RESTRIKAL": a study of the long-term effects of resveratrol on the delayed appearance of age-related deficits and an increase in the
longevity of grey mouse lemurs.

These findings contribute to our understanding of the factors that control the balance between energy intake and expenditure, such as manipulations of our environment or lifestyle, or the use of medicinal products. They represent an important step towards the development of treatments for human obesity, which results from a prolonged imbalance between energy intake and expenditure.


© Eric Guéton/CNRS/MNHN

The grey mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus) eating in captivity.


(1) Polyphenols are a family of organic compounds that are widely present in the plant kingdom and are characterized by a more or less complex combination of several phenolic groups. Because of their role as natural antioxidants, these compounds arouse much interest for the prevention and treatment of cancer and inflammatory, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. They are also used as additives by the agri-food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.

(2) In the animal kingdom, the group of heterotherms includes homeothermic organisms whose internal temperature may vary in certain cases (during sleep, fasting, a drop in ambient temperature, etc.).

(3) The resting metabolic rate corresponds to the body's "incompressible" energy needs, i.e. the minimum energy expenditure that enables it to survive; at rest, the organism consumes energy to keep its functions going (heart, brain, respiration, digestion, maintenance of body temperature), through biochemical reactions. It is measured from the oxygen consumption of the animal.


Dal-Pan A, Blanc S, Aujard F. Resveratrol suppresses body mass gain in a seasonal non human primate model of obesity. BMC Physiology, publié le 22 juin 2010
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Read the article published in AGE on 9 June 2010, on-line: View web site


CNRS researcher l Fabienne Aujard l T 01 60 47 92 37 l

CNRS press officer l Elsa Champion l T 01 44 96 43 90 l


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