However, lead author Dr. Jay H. Chung -- chief of the Laboratory of Obesity and Aging Research at the National Institute of Health's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute -- found resveratrol inhibits certain types of proteins known as phosphodiesterases -- enzymes that help regulate cell energy.
The findings, published in the journal Cell, might help settle the debate regarding resveratrol's biochemistry and pave the way for resveratrol-based medicines for its potential to combat diabetes, inflammation and cancer.
"Resveratrol has potential as a therapy for diverse diseases such as type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and heart disease," Chung said in a statement. "However, before researchers can transform resveratrol into a safe and effective medicine, they need to know exactly what it targets in cells."
Chung noted that because resveratrol in its natural form interacts with many proteins, not just phosphodiesterases, it may cause not-yet-known toxicities as a medicine, particularly with long-term use.
The levels of resveratrol found in wine or foods are likely not high enough to produce significant health benefits or problems, Chung said.
"Convincing clinical studies in humans have used about 1 gram of resveratrol per day, roughly equal to the amount found in 667 bottles of red wine," Chung said.