Original Article

Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology

, Volume 68, Issue 3, pp 593-601

First online:

Pharmacokinetics, oral bioavailability, and metabolic profile of resveratrol and its dimethylether analog, pterostilbene, in rats

  • Izet M. KapetanovicAffiliated withDivision of Cancer Prevention, National Cancer Institute
  • , Miguel MuzzioAffiliated withLife Sciences Group, IIT Research Institute Email author 
  • , Zhihua HuangAffiliated withLife Sciences Group, IIT Research Institute
  • , Thomas N. ThompsonAffiliated withR&D Services Pharma Consulting
  • , David L. McCormickAffiliated withLife Sciences Group, IIT Research Institute

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Resveratrol (3,5,4′-trihydroxy-trans-stilbene) is a naturally occurring polyphenol with a broad range of possible health benefits, including anti-cancer activity. However, the biological activity of resveratrol may be limited by poor absorption and first-pass metabolism: only low plasma concentrations of resveratrol are seen following oral administration, and metabolism to glucuronide and sulfate conjugates is rapid. Methylated polyphenol analogs (such as pterostilbene [3,5-dimethoxy-4′-hydroxy-trans-stilbene], the dimethylether analog of resveratrol) may overcome these limitations to pharmacologic efficacy. The present study was designed to compare the bioavailability, pharmacokinetics, and metabolism of resveratrol and pterostilbene following equimolar oral dosing in rats.


The agents were administered orally via gavage for 14 consecutive days at 50 or 150 mg/kg/day for resveratrol and 56 or 168 mg/kg/day for pterostilbene. Two additional groups were dosed once intravenously with 10 and 11.2 mg/kg for resveratrol and pterostilbene, respectively. Plasma concentrations of agents and metabolites were measured using a high-pressure liquid chromatograph-tandem mass spectrometer system. Noncompartmental analysis was used to derive pharmacokinetic parameters.


Resveratrol and pterostilbene were approximately 20 and 80% bioavailable, respectively. Following oral dosing, plasma levels of pterostilbene and pterostilbene sulfate were markedly greater than were plasma levels of resveratrol and resveratrol sulfate. Although plasma levels of resveratrol glucuronide exceeded those of pterostilbene glucuronide, those differences were smaller than those of the parent drugs and sulfate metabolites.


When administered orally, pterostilbene demonstrates greater bioavailability and total plasma levels of both the parent compound and metabolites than does resveratrol. These differences in agent pharmacokinetics suggest that the in vivo biological activity of equimolar doses of pterostilbene may be greater than that of resveratrol.


Resveratrol Pterostilbene Pharmacokinetics Bioavailability Metabolites Rat