Dr. Johan Auwerx and colleagues from the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology in Illkirch, France, recently conducted an animal study to test the effects of high doses of resveratrol on exercise endurance in mice.
A typical laboratory mouse can run roughly one kilometer on a treadmill before it collapses from exhaustion. Auwerx supplemented a group of mice with up to 400 mg of resveratrol per kilo of body weight, and found that the mice were then able to run twice as far as the mice that were not supplemented.
The resveratrol mice were also found to have energy-charged muscles and a lower heart rate, much like trained athletes.
"Resveratrol makes you look like a trained athlete without the training," Auwerx said.
Auwerx believes that the results of his animal study -- published online in the journal Cell -- could be replicated in humans, based on the results of a Finnish study that analyzed the gene that is influenced by the resveratrol drug.
Previous studies of mice have indicated that moderate-to-high doses of resveratrol can activate a genetic mechanism that protects against the degenerative diseases of aging, as well as prolong life span by up to 30 percent.
Auwerx believes resveratrol can help offset the negative health effects of high-fat diets -- which can lead to the onset of metabolic disorder and diabetes -- by increasing the number of mitochondria in the body's muscle cells.
Extra mitochondria -- organelles that generate energy -- were found to help mice burn more fat and remodel muscle fibers to more closely resemble those of trained athletes.
Though resveratrol is present in red wine and some other foods, the concentrations used in Auwerx' study were much higher than could ever be obtained through red wine consumption.
More research on resveratrol is needed before possible drug therapies to combat obesity and diabetes-related disorders can be developed.