Pterostilbene ‘more potent than resveratrol’ for colon health: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Resveratrol

Pterostilbene, an ingredient garnering a lot of attention in the natural products industry, is ‘more potent’ than resveratrol for colon health, says a new study.

Dietary supplementation of mice with pterostilbene was found to protect against the formation of colon cancer more effectively than resveratrol, according to findings published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (JAFC)​.

“We demonstrated that the chemopreventive effect of pterostilbene was more potent than resveratrol and was associated with a decreased inflammation as well as modulation of the antioxidant signaling pathways in the colons of mice,”​ wrote the researchers, led by Min-Hsiung Pan from the National Kaohsiung Marine University in Taiwan.

“These findings strongly suggested the chemopreventive potential of dietary administration of pterostilbene against colonic tumorigenesis,”​ they added.

The new study also involved researchers from Sabinsa Corp., Taipei Medical University, and Rutgers University, and Sabinsa provided both the pterostilbene and resveratrol ingredients. The study was funded by Taiwan’s National Science Council.


Resveratrol, a powerful polyphenol and anti-fungal chemical, is often touted as the bioactive compound in grapes and red wine, and has particularly been associated with the so-called 'French Paradox'.

Interest in the compound exploded in 2003 when research from David Sinclair and his team from Harvard reported that resveratrol was able to increase the lifespan of yeast cells. The research, published in Nature​, was greeted with international media fanfare and ignited flames of hope for an anti-aging pill.

Since then studies in nematode worms, fruit flies, fish, and mice have linked resveratrol to longer lives. Other studies with only resveratrol have reported anti-cancer effects, anti-inflammatory effects, cardiovascular benefits, anti-diabetes potential, energy endurance enhancement, and protection against Alzheimer’s.

However, the upward trajectory for the ingredient has not been smooth, with news that pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) suspended a phase 2 human trial of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals’ resveratrol drug, SRT501, in 2010 when subjects developed kidney damage. Sirtris is a subsidiary of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which bought the company in 2008 for $720m.

Speaking with at the recent Supply Expo in Anaheim, Dr Kalyanam Nagabhushanam, president of R&D for Sabinsa and co-author of the new study, said that resveratrol will not disappear, and noted that “pterostilbene is more interesting”​.

“Pterostilbene has many properties similar to resveratrol, and its anti-diabetes effects have been known for some time,”​ he added.


According to new data in JAFC​, the health benefits of pterostilbene may also extend to the colon. The researchers tested the effects of resveratrol or pterostilbene on mice exposed to a compound called azoxymethane (AOM), which is known to induce tumor formation in the colon.

Results showed that pterostilbene was more effective than resveratrol for reducing the inflammatory response to AOM. In addition, pterostilbene was more effective at increasing the expression of various antioxidant enzymes.

When the above findings are taken together, they suggest that both stilbenes block cellular inflammation and oxidative stress,”​ wrote the researchers. “In comparison, pterostilbene was a more potent chemopreventive agent than resveratrol for the prevention of colon cancer.”


Sabinsa’s ingredient is extracted from the heartwood of the Pterocarpus marsupium​ (Indian kino) tree. Dr Nagabhushanam told NutraIngredients-USA that there are currently no constraints on supply, and that if such a situation arose, the company could fall back on US Patent #7,253,324, issued in 2007, for the manufacture of polyphenols such as resveratrol, oxyresveratrol and pterostilbene.

Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Volume 59, Issue 6, Pages 2725–2733, doi: 10.1021/jf2000103
“Pterostilbene Is More Potent than Resveratrol in Preventing Azoxymethane (AOM)-Induced Colon Tumorigenesis via Activation of the NF-E2-Related Factor 2 (Nrf2)-Mediated Antioxidant Signaling Pathway”
Authors: Y-S. Chiou, M-L. Tsai, K. Nagabhushanam, Y-J. Wang, C-H. Wu, C-T. Ho, M-H. Pan

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1 comment

Pterostilbene superiority

Posted by Bill Sardi,

We can all appreciate advances in resveratrol science. But this claim of superior bioavailability needs to be demonstrated in organs and tissues beyond the liver which is where resveratrol is metabolized (detoxified by attachment to carrier molecules). The colon benefits are very positive, but there is direct contact following oral ingestion, and this does nothing to demonstrate better bioavailability. If bioavailability is improved (more free unbound resveratrol in the blood circulation), the half-life of resveratrol should be shortened to around 14 minutes. This may or may not improve therapeutic applications. It is important to realize plain resveratrol , not methylated pterostilbene, produces profound physiological effects. If pterostilbene is more biologically active it is possible that the dosage needs to be reduced to avoid side reactions. At some point, with increased dosage, resveratrol goes from becoing an antioxidant to a pro-oxidant. The biological effects of resveratrol have already been exceeded by adding other small synergistic molecules.

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