Sulfate metabolites may boost resveratrol absorption, but big questions remain over implications for supplements

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Sulfate metabolites may boost resveratrol absorption, but big questions remain over implications for supplements

Related tags Dietary supplement Resveratrol

Delivering resveratrol as resveratrol sulfate may increase its uptake by cells, says a new study, but the implications for dietary supplements remain unknown.

Scientists from the University of Leicester (UK), the University of Michigan Medical School, and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Michigan report that sulfate metabolites of resveratrol can be transported across cell membranes, and that, once inside cells, the sulfate group can be removed by an enzyme, which frees up resveratrol and allows its use by cells.

Data from humans, published in Science Translational Medicine​, indicated that when people take 1 gram of resveratrol a day, concentrations of resveratrol sulfate in the body are higher compared to other resveratrol metabolites, indicating that sulfates are preferentially taken up by tissues.

Additional study in mice indicated that resveratrol can be regenerated from resveratrol sulfate in the body, and this method of producing the compound may actually be more important for producing beneficial effects in cells than absorption of free resveratrol that has never been metabolized.

While the implications for human health are interesting, it may be too soon to get excited for dietary supplements, which currently use trans-resveratrol.


Commenting independently on the research, Deshanie Rai, PhD, Senior Scientific Leader here at DSM Nutritional Products, North America explained that, while the data presented continues to add to overall body of science to support the biological benefits of resveratrol in general, the implications of the findings are more highly relevant to drug discovery and the pharmaceutical industry. 

“The implications of these scientific findings for the dietary supplement industry at this time is not well known especially from a regulatory perspective,”​ Dr Rai told us. “In this regard, it is not well understood at this time whether sulfate metabolites of resveratrol will need to be supported by an NDI application and how the current findings translate to messaging in the supplement world without making reference to a drug/disease claim. 

“In the meantime, the clinical body of evidence continues to grow for a benefit of trans-resveratrol as a supplement for the dietary management of symptoms related to the metabolic syndrome, support of cardiovascular health and healthy aging.”

Dr Rai said her comments in no way discredits or minimizes the work of Patel and colleagues, and that their research is very important to identifying new forms and delivery systems to achieve the benefits of resveratrol and needs further clinical evaluation to understand its implications for both drug and dietary supplement applications.

To listen to our interview with Professor Karen Brown when she presented the study's findings at the Resveratrol 2012 conference, please click here​. 

Source: Science Translational Medicine
2 October 2013, Volume 5, Issue 205, 205ra132
“Sulfate Metabolites Provide an Intracellular Pool for Resveratrol Generation and Induce Autophagy with Senescence”
Authors: K.R. Patel; C. Andreadi; R.G. Britton; et al 

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