Resveratrol may speed up muscle growth

Resveratrol – When you do strength training your muscle tissue is continuously extracting stem cells from your blood so that they can then grow into mature muscle cells. An Italian in-vitro study seems to suggest that resveratrol supplementation [structural formula on the right] speeds up this process.

Anna Montesano’s study, which was published in the Journal of Translational Medicine, is of a kind rarely found these days. The researchers studied the effect of resveratrol on muscle cells simply because they were curious about it. ‘Curiosity driven research’ is the name given to this kind of work, and most universities have almost outlawed this type of study.

In the second decade of the twenty-first century scientific research has to be ‘useful’. Universities increasingly compel researchers to undertake research that private companies can do twenty times better and faster. Whether this is ‘better’ for society is a moot point. The pace of technological innovation is still decreasing, despite all the ‘useful’ research being undertaken.


But never mind. Montesano wanted to know what resveratrol did to young muscle cells in test tubes. Their development process is shown above. Montesano studied the effect of resveratrol in concentrations of 0.1 and 25 micromoles.

Resveratrol speeded up the cell development. As a result, to start with resveratrol reduced the speed at which the cells divided. [Figure] But at the same time resveratrol also resulted in the muscle fibres becoming longer and thicker.


Resveratrol boosted the production of the contracting motor muscle protein Myosin Heavy Chain [MyHC], the most important component in mature muscle fibres.


Resveratrol boosted the amount of AMPK and of the extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 [ERK1] [ERK2] in the muscle cells. AMPK is a protein that becomes active when muscle cells have no energy left. ERK1 and ERK2 are proteins that start up processes in muscle cells in response to growth factors that are active outside the muscle cells.


AMPK and ERK1/2 regulate the development of muscle cells in opposite directions: AMPK stops anabolic processes, but stimulates the production of mitochondria, while extracellular signal-related kinases transmit the anabolic stimulus of IGF-1 to the DNA in the muscle cells. But it seems that in this case that resveratrol has a greater effect on ERK1/2 than on AMPK.

“Our data demonstrate that resveratrol could control proliferation, start myogenesis process and induce hypertrophy”, the Italians write. “Our in vitro studies may constitute novel proof of principle to potential applications of the compound to prevent or reverse muscle impairment by stimulating myogenesis, and emphasize new possible use of resveratrol to enhance muscle performance.”

Resveratrol promotes myogenesis and hypertrophy in murine myoblasts.



Nutrigenomics elucidate the ability of bioactive food components to influence gene expression, protein synthesis, degradation and post-translational modifications.Resveratrol (RSV), natural polyphenol found in grapes and in other fruits, has a plethora of health benefits in a variety of human diseases: cardio- and neuroprotection, immune regulation, cancer chemoprevention, DNA repair, prevention of mitochondrial disorder, avoidance of obesity-related diseases. In skeletal muscle, RSV acts on protein catabolism and muscle function, conferring resistance against oxidative stress, injury and cell death, but its action mechanisms and protein targets in myogenesis process are not completely known. Myogenesis is a dynamic multistep process regulated by Myogenic Regulator Factors (MRFs), responsible of the commitment of myogenic cell into skeletal muscle: mononucleated undifferentiated myoblasts break free from cell cycle, elongate and fuse to form multinucleated myotubes. Skeletal muscle hypertrophy can be defined as a result of an increase in the size of pre-existing skeletal muscle fibers accompanied by increased protein synthesis, mainly regulated by Insulin Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1), PI3-K/AKT signaling pathways.Aim of this work was the study of RSV effects on proliferation, differentiation process and hypertrophy in C2C12 murine cells.


To study proliferative phase, cells were incubated in growth medium with/without RSV (0.1 or 25 ?M) until reaching sub confluence condition (24, 48, 72 h). To examine differentiation, at 70% confluence, cells were transferred in differentiation medium both with/without RSV (0.1 or 25 ?M) for 24, 48, 72, 96 hours. After 72 hours of differentiation, the genesis of hypertrophy in neo-formed myotubes was analyzed.


Data showed that RSV regulates cell cycle exit and induces C2C12 muscle differentiation. Furthermore, RSV might control MRFs and muscle-specific proteins synthesis. In late differentiation, RSV has positive effects on hypertrophy: RSV stimulates IGF-1 signaling pathway, in particular AKT and ERK 1/2 protein activation, AMPK protein level and induces hypertrophic morphological changes in neo-formed myotubes modulating cytoskeletal proteins expression.


RSV might control cell cycle promoting myogenesis and hypertrophy in vitro, opening a novel field of application of RSV in clinical conditions characterized by chronic functional and morphological muscle impairment.

PMID: 24330398 [PubMed – in process] PMCID: PMC3867424