The liver side effects of resveratrol: dispelling the myths

Resveratrol is a phenolic compound that several plants produce due to fungi and bacteria colonization. It is mainly present in raspberries, grape peel, peanuts, and blueberries, while its highest concentration is found in red wine. It's a common myth that resveratrol side effects liver. At the same time, several scientific studies have revealed that resveratrol can prevent or slow the progression of numerous diseases. Interestingly, many evidence-based studies also explain its therapeutic properties in preventing or treating liver diseases. Let's discuss how resveratrol supports liver health and prevents liver damage.

Resveratrol side effects liver, title image with grapes

Does resveratrol have side effects on the liver?

Not at all! Resveratrol does not have side effects liver. A recent human study has depicted that liver damage due to resveratrol is not reported. But high doses (more than 20 mg per kg body weight) of this compound increase the release of aminotransferase enzyme while decreasing the glutathione in the body. And this condition results in liver injury and inflammation. Thus appropriate dose matters, so, before starting any remedy, first, consult your physician.

Liver health and resveratrol: molecular mechanisms

Inflammation and oxidative stress

Resveratrol has an excellent potential to increase antioxidant activity in your body that supports liver health and prevents disorders. Primarily, it exerts its action by reducing the number of reactive oxidative species (ROS), eliminating free radicles, and increasing the activity of natural antioxidant enzymes in the body.

May prevents liver fibrosis

Oxidative stress plays a fundamental role in the progression of liver fibrosis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. In this regard, resveratrol improves the functioning of hepatic endothelial cells and reduces portal pressure. Recent research has shown that the oral administration of 10 to 20 mg of resveratrol for six weeks has significantly reduced portal pressure in cirrhotic rats. This effect was due to more nitric oxide production in the body, which reduces hepatic fibrosis.

Diabetes and liver glucose metabolism

Several scientific studies have underlined the positive effect of resveratrol on the liver of diabetic rats. In fact, it can also restore the regulatory function of the liver in glucose metabolism. This is linked with its ability to activate the enzymes of glucose metabolism in people with diabetes. Resveratrol increases the activity of hexokinase, a key enzyme of glycolysis. Moreover, it enhances the insulin level in the blood, which is responsible for these changes. The beneficial role of resveratrol is strongly linked with its insulin-dependent role in liver and skeletal muscles.

Liver viruses

Resveratrol has a solid ability to stop the replication of infective viruses in the liver, including influenza A, herpes simplex, and varicella-zoster. One recent study has shown that the daily oral intake of 30 mg of resveratrol can significantly stop viral hepatitis C (HCV) replication.

Resveratrol and paracetamol

According to health experts, the excessive use of paracetamol is the leading cause of liver failure. Paracetamol is also known as hepatoxic that causes liver damage due to inflammation and oxidative stress. Interestingly, paracetamol does not result in liver damage itself, but one of its metabolites, NAPQI (N-acetyl-p-benzoquinone imine), reduces the glutathione level (natural antioxidant) in the liver that leads to inflammation. In addition, risk factors for liver toxicity include alcohol consumption, excessive use of medication, anorexia. But the antioxidant and free-radical scavenging properties of resveratrol make it suitable against paracetamol-induced toxicity in the liver. One recent study has shown that before and after paracetamol use, the treatment of hepatocytes with resveratrol can decrease the level of ALT enzyme in the blood, promoting hepatic injury.

Resveratrol and ethanol

Excessive alcohol intake increases acetate production in the liver, which promotes inflammation. In addition, alcohol metabolites also increase the release of free radicles, leading to oxidative stress in the liver. Several studies have shown that resveratrol administration in water can avoid mortality, ethanol-induced liver damage, and oxidative stress in mice. There was 100% mortality in the ethanol drinking group during this ten-week study and 5% in the resveratrol group.

Chemical-induced liver damage and resveratrol

Several types of chemicals can lead to liver injury. Resveratrol has a positive effect on this type of chemical-induced liver damage. The most common hepatotoxic chemicals include naphthalene and cadmium. In this condition, resveratrol treatment decreases the level of ALT enzymes and bilirubin that causes inflammation while increasing antioxidant enzymes' activity.

Liver damage due to high-fat diet and resveratrol

A high-fat diet can significantly damage the liver in both animals and humans and leads to fatty liver diseases. Several studies have shown that resveratrol has a hepatoprotective impact on liver damage due to high fat. One more study has shown that the oral administration of resveratrol for ten weeks can significantly reduce total serum cholesterol, lipids, and triglyceride levels in fat rats.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and resveratrol

According to a recent survey, NAFLD affects up to 15% of adults in Asia while 30% in western countries. It is the most prevalent liver disease in the world. This disease is characterized by the deposition of extra fat in the liver. NAFLD slowly progresses to cirrhosis, which ultimately leads to liver failure. NAFLD is the leading and common cause of liver transplants in adults in the US. Common risk factors for NAFLD include chronic kidney disease, heart diseases, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia.

Resveratrol side effects liver: Conclusion

Resveratrol side effects liver is a common myth, while it provides several health benefits. Its potent anti-inflammatory and potential antioxidant effect benefit your liver and entire body. It can protect your liver from several disorders, including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, ethanol-induced liver damage, chemical-induced liver toxicity, liver damage due to viruses, and liver failure. But its excessive dose can be harmful, so, first, consult your physician to know the appropriate dose of this super ingredient.

References

  1. http://doi.org/10.1590/0001-3765202020191230
  2. https://www.nature.com/articles/nrd2060
  3. https://aasldpubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hep.510270512
  4. https://www.mdpi.com/1424-8247/13/10/285
  5. https://cdnsciencepub.com/doi/10.1139/cjpp-2017-0001