The Power of Pterostilbene

The Power of Pterostilbene

Pterostilbene (Pteros‐til‐bene) is an analog of resveratrol, a compound that is found in red grapes, peanuts, and other plant foods.

It is considered to be a calorie restriction mimetic — that is, a compound that mimics the myriad benefits associated with lowering one’s daily calorie intake.

The Cancer Connection

In 1999, researchers reported in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology that pterostilbene and resveratrol were found in the Ayurvedic medicine darakchasava, which has long been prescribed as a cardiotonic and more.1

A review published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2002 reported the significant antioxidant potential of pterostilbene, its inhibitory effect against cyclooxygenase 1 (COX-1) and COX-2 (enzymes involved in inflammation) and its ability to prevent precancerous changes induced by a carcinogen in a mouse model of mammary cancer.2 The compound has shown stronger protective effects than resveratrol against the development of colon cancer in mice injected with a carcinogenic compound.3

Other research has shown an inhibitory effect for pterostilbene against gastric,4 bladder,5 pancreatic,6 lung,7 melanoma,8 osteosarcoma,9 liver,10 leukemia,11 esophageal12, and breast and prostate cancer cell lines.13 Additionally, pterostilbene has had a growth-inhibitory effect in colorectal cancer cells when combined with another plant compound, quercetin.14 A review lists alteration of the cell cycle, induction of apoptosis, and inhibition of metastasis as pterostilbene’s anticancer mechanisms.15

Cancer stem cells are increasingly recognized for their role in cancer and metastasis. A study published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found that pterostilbene suppressed the generation of cancer stem cells in breast cancer cell cultures.16

Pterostilbene is a Metabolic Marvel

Findings from several studies suggest that pterostilbene could be of benefit to diabetics. In rats, in which diabetes was induced, pterostilbene improved activity levels of the body’s naturally produced antioxidants, and normalized lipid peroxidation and pathologic changes in the animals kidneys and liver.17

In another study involving diabetic rats, pterostilbene lowered plasma glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin levels (HbA1C), inviting a comparison with metformin.18 In hamsters with elevated cholesterol levels, enhancement of the diet with pterostilbene was associated with lower glucose as well as low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.19

Research involving vascular smooth muscle cells, which are the main cells of the arterial wall, whose abnormal proliferation plays a role in the development of atherosclerosis, uncovered an inhibitory effect in vitro in association with the administration of pterostilbene, which suggests that “Pterostilbene may be a potential anti-proliferative agent for the treatment of atherosclerosis and angioplasty restenosis,” according to authors Eun-Seok Park and colleagues.20

Pterostilbene and Memory

Now we come to an area of interest to most life extensionists: pterostilbene’s effect on brain aging. In aged rats given pterostilbene, cognitive behavioral deficits were reversed and a correlation was discovered between working memory and pterostilbene levels in the brain’s hippocampus, an area that is involved in memory formation.21

In a study involving a mouse model of accelerated aging, the addition of pterostilbene to the diet improved water maze performance in comparison with mice that did not receive the compound, and reduced markers of cellular stress, inflammation, and Alzheimer’s disease pathology.22

In mice given a compound that impairs memory and learning, the administration of pterostilbene reduced this impairment and showed a protective effect against neuronal injury compared to untreated mice.23 

In a study that involved mice in which cerebral ischemia was induced followed by reperfusion, subsequent administration of pterostilbene improved neurologic function, decreased brain infarct volume, and reduced brain edema after 24 hours. In addition, pterostilbene was associated with improved motor function, increased neuron survival, inhibition of oxidative stress and other benefits indicative of neuroprotection.24

The Bottom Line

Although scientific investigation of pterostilbene and its benefits is relatively recent, the evidence revealed so far is positive. While one doesn’t replace the other, pterostilbene appears to have many of the benefits of resveratrol and potentially greater bioavailability.25, 26, 27 Combining the two could be the best way to ensure reaping the greatest number of benefits from these multifaceted compounds.


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  2. Rimando AM et al. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Jun 5;50(12):3453-7.
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  23. Hou Y et al. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2014 Oct 3;54:92-102.
  24. Zhou Y et al. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2015 Aug;135:199-209.
  25. Kapetanovic IM et al. Cancer chemotherapy and pharmacology. 2011;68(3):593-601.
  26. Nutakul W et al. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry. 2011;59(20):10964-10970.
  27. McCormack D et al. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 2013;2013:575482.

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