The study, published in Diabetes, reports that administering resveratrol to the young offspring of lab rats after weaning prevented the development of metabolic syndrome – which is characterized by glucose intolerance, insulin resistance and higher deposits of abdominal fat.
“Our results suggest that early, postnatal administration of resveratrol could improve the metabolic profile of high-fat fed offspring born from pregnancies complicated by intrauterine growth restriction,” said the researchers, led by Jason Dyck from the University of Alberta, Canada.
Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a name for a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
The authors noted that a lack a prenatal lack of oxygen (known as hypoxic insult) can lead to growth restriction in the uterus and also increases the susceptibility to develop MetS in later life.
"When babies are growth-restricted, they usually have a catch-up period after they are born where they catch up to non-growth-restricted groups. It might be that reprogramming that creates this kind of 'thrifty' phenotype, where they want to consume and store and get caught up,” said Dyck
"That reprogramming appears to make them more vulnerable to developing a host of metabolic problems," he added.
The researchers noted that since resveratrol exerts insulin-sensitizing effects, it could prevent deleterious metabolic effects of being born with intrauterine growth restriction.
The researchers exposed pregnant rats to either a normal (21% oxygen - control) or hypoxic (11.5% oxygen – for growth restriction) during the last third of gestation. After weaning, male offspring were randomly assigned to receive either a high-fat diet or a high-fat diet with resveratrol for 9 weeks.
The researchers found that relative to the controls, the hypoxia-induced growth restriction offspring developed more severe MetS, including glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, increased fat deposition, and raised plasma triacylglycerol and free fatty acids.
They found that in rats with intrauterine growth restriction, administration of resveratrol reduced abdominal fat deposition to levels comparable with controls, improved the plasma lipid profile, and reduced accumulation of triglycerides.
“Moreover, resveratrol ameliorated insulin resistance and glucose intolerance as well,” they added.
Dyck and his team are continuing their research in this area, examining whether treating the mother during pregnancy can prevent metabolic problems in rat offspring affected by intrauterine growth restriction.
Volume 60, Number 9, Pages 2274-2284, doi: 10.2337/db11-0374
“Continued Postnatal Administration of Resveratrol Prevents Diet-Induced Metabolic Syndrome in Rat Offspring Born Growth Restricted”
Authors: V.W. Dolinsky, C.F. Rueda-Clausen, J.S. Morton, S.T. Davidge, J.R.B. Dyck