WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.—Red wine lovers have another reason to toast its benefits. Piceatannol, a compound found in red wine, grapes and other fruits, and similar in structure to resveratrol, blocks the pathways necessary for immature fat cells to mature and grow, according to a new study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. The findings may lead to new strategies to help control obesity.
Resveratrol is converted to piceatannol in humans after consumption. Researchers at Purdue University found that piceatannol binds to insulin receptors of immature fat cells in the first stage of adipogenesis, blocking insulin's ability to control cell cycles and activate genes that carry out further stages of fat cell formation.
"Piceatannol actually alters the timing of gene expressions, gene functions and insulin action during adipogenesis, the process in which early stage fat cells become mature fat cells," the researchers said. "In the presence of piceatannol, you can see delay or complete inhibition of adipogenesis." Over a period of 10 days or more, immature fat cells, called preadipocytes, go through several stages to become mature fat cells, or adipocytes.
"These precursor cells, even though they have not accumulated lipids, have the potential to become fat cells," they said. "We consider that adipogenesis is an important molecular target to delay or prevent fat cell accumulation and, hopefully, body fat mass gain."