Resveratrol, a polyphenol found commonly in red wine, is linked to a number of health benefits including the prevention of cardiovascular disease, suppression of cancer, and stimulation of genes associated with longer lifespans. Although many of these properties have been investigated, the exact mechanism by which resveratrol causes these effects within the body is not yet understood. The relatively quick metabolism of resveratrol makes the understanding of these processes even more difficult, as some of the observed effects of resveratrol may be due to its metabolites and derivatives. One hypothesized mechanism for resveratrol’s health benefits is its ability to integrate directly into cell membranes, thereby changing the membrane composition and cellular activity. Resveratrol metabolites and derivatives may act in a similar way. We performed electrophysiology on planar lipid bilayers to determine the impact of nanomolar concentrations of resveratrol and the resveratrol derivatives dihydroresveratrol and trimethyl resveratrol on a model cell membrane structure, as measured by changes in the lifetimes of gramicidin A channel dimers. Resveratrol and trimethyl resveratrol were found to increase the flexibility of the membrane, suggesting that both molecules can be incorporated directly into the membrane and change its properties. The ability of these molecules to integrate into the cell membrane may modulate some of their beneficial effects within the human body.
Aidan Litt, ’19
MariKate Murphy, ’18