Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



Advisor/Committee Chair

Ewan McNay


Resveratrol is a polyphenol antioxidant found in red wine known to have anti-aging, anti-cancer, and anti-obesity effects in both humans and animals. Resveratrol's primary biological action is as an antioxidant, causing a reduction in reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS are produced as byproducts of normal metabolic functions, but become abnormally elevated in individuals who consume a high fat diet (HFD) or who have metabolic conditions like Type II Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM); in these circumstances, abnormal elevation in ROS leads to cellular damage and cell death. Another common effect of a diet high in fat and calories is cognitive impairment: specifically, impaired memory. Here, we tested the hypothesis that resveratrol might attenuate memory impairment caused by the ingestion of a high fat diet. Animals on either a control (chow) diet or high fat diet (60% kcal fat) were treated with resveratrol (or vehicle) once weekly for 20 weeks. Although no metabolic effects of the resveratrol treatment were seen, HFD animals treated with resveratrol performed significantly better in behavioral tasks, indicating a possible role of resveratrol as a therapeutic intervention to improve memory in individuals with metabolic dysregulation. Additionally, healthy rats treated with resveratrol demonstrated a higher level of anxiety than their matched controls. Behavioral and metabolic measures were complemented by post-mortem measurement of molecular markers linked to memory formation, insulin signaling, and the cellular response to oxidative stress, intended to help elucidate neuroprotective mechanisms of resveratrol. Ultimately, this study indicates a possible role for resveratrol in preventative care for individuals prone to metabolic disease and related cognitive dysfunction.

Included in

Biology Commons