Review| Volume 20, ISSUE 8, P618-625, October 2010

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Dietary polyphenols: Focus on resveratrol, a promising agent in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and control of glucose homeostasis


      Plants continuously produce an extraordinary variety of biologically active low-molecular-mass compounds. Among them, resveratrol (3,5,4′-trihydroxystilbene) is endowed with significant positive activities by protecting against cardiovascular diseases and preventing the development and progression of atherosclerosis. Furthermore, the molecule significantly ameliorates glucose homeostasis in obese mice. These beneficial effects have driven considerable interest towards resveratrol molecular activities, and intensive efforts for the identification of the stilbene targets have been made.
      The molecule shows a pleiotropic mode of action. Particularly, its cellular targets are crucial for cell proliferation and differentiation, apoptosis, antioxidant defence and mitochondrial energy production. The complexity of resveratrol activities might account for its effectiveness in ameliorating multifactorial processes, including the onset and/or progression of several degenerative diseases such as myocardial infarction, atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes.
      This article reports the actions of resveratrol on cardiovascular diseases and the molecular bases of its activity. We also discuss recent data on the effect of resveratrol on glucose homeostasis and obesity. Finally, the relevance of the stilbene use in the development of new pharmacological strategies is evaluated.


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