Resveratrol is a phenolic phytochemical, with a stilbene backbone, derived from edible plants such as grape and peanut. It is a bioactive molecule with physiological effects on multiple organ systems. Its effects range from the neuroprotective to the nephroprotective, including cardiovascular, neuronal, and antineoplastic responses as a part of its broad spectrum of action. In this review, we examine the effects of resveratrol on the following organ systems: the central nervous system, including neurological pathology such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease; the cardiovascular system, including disorders such as atherosclerosis, ischemia-reperfusion injury, and cardiomyocyte hypertrophy; the kidneys, including primary and secondary nephropathies and nephrolithiasis; multiple forms of cancer; and metabolic syndromes including diabetes. We emphasize commonalities in extracellular matrix protein alterations and intracellular signal transduction system induction following resveratrol treatment. We summarize the known anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and cytoprotective effects of resveratrol across disparate organ systems. Additionally, we analyze the available literature regarding the pharmacokinetics of resveratrol formulations used in these studies. Finally, we critically examine select clinical trials documenting a lack of effect following resveratrol treatment.
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