Current Pharmacology Reports

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 202–209 | Cite as

Stilbenes: Chemistry and Molecular Mechanisms of Anti-obesity

  • Ya-Chun Chou
  • Chi-Tang Ho
  • Min-Hsiung Pan
Natural Products: From Chemistry to Pharmacology (C Ho, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Natural Products: From Chemistry to Pharmacology


Stilbenoids, a class of plant polyphenols abundant in berries, have been found to have many biological actions. Resveratrol, the most well-known of the stilbenes, is used for disease prevention, particularly for anti-obesity. Due to the low bioavailability of resveratrol, other stilbenes and their metabolites are also considered as candidates for anti-obesity. Obesity has numerous known causes, including genetics, diet, lifestyle, the endocrine system, and gut microbiota. Treating obesity can be rather problematic, with calorie intake reductions and increased physical exercise being difficult to maintain, medicines having side effects, and surgery being not suitable for all patients. Many stilbenes tested in animal studies have demonstrated beneficial effects, including reductions of lipid accumulation, regulation of glucose homeostasis, inflammation alleviation, and modulation of gut microbiota. This paper summarizes the molecular mechanisms of four major stilbenes used to treat obesity. Several pathways involved in regulation of fat metabolism affected by stilbenes, such as adipogenesis, lipogenesis, lipolysis, thermogenesis, and gut microbiota, will be introduced. In summary, stilbenes are promising for managing and treating obesity. A comparison of the physiological effects of various stilbenoids and other stilbene derivatives on obesity-associated diseases is warranted.


Stilbenes Anti-obesity 



Acetyl-CoA carboxylase


Adipose triglyceride lipase


Brown adipose tissue


Carnitine palmitoyltransferase-1




Fatty acid synthase complex


Free fatty acids


Glucose transporter type 4


Hormone-sensitive lipase




Mitotic clonal expansion


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease


Nuclear respiratory factor 1


Proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha


Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma


Sterol regulatory element-binding transcription factor 1c




Uncoupling protein 1


White adipose tissue


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Food Science and TechnologyNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of Food ScienceRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  3. 3.Department of Medical Research, China Medical University HospitalChina Medical UniversityTaichungTaiwan
  4. 4.Department of Health and Nutrition BiotechnologyAsia UniversityTaichungTaiwan

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