Effects of resveratrol on human immune cell function

Life Sci. 2001 Nov 21;70(1):81-96. doi: 10.1016/s0024-3205(01)01367-4.


Resveratrol (3,5,4'-trihydroxystilbene), a polyphenol found in grapes and grape products such as red wine, has been reported to exhibit a wide range of biological and pharmacological activities both in vitro and in vivo. Because many of the biological activities of resveratrol, like the inhibition of cyclooxygenase, induction of CD95 signaling-dependent apoptosis, effects on cell division cycle and modulation of NF-kB activation, suggest a possible effect on the immune system, we evaluated the in vitro effects of resveratrol in three immune response models: i) development of cytokine-producing CD4+ and CD8+ T cells induced by stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) with anti-CD3/anti-CD28; ii) specific antigen-induced generation of cytotoxic T lymphocytes; iii) natural killer (NK) activity of PBMC. The results showed that in vitro exposure to resveratrol produces a biphasic effect on the anti-CD3/anti-CD28-induced development of both IFN-gamma- IL2- and IL4-producing CD8+ and CD4+ T cells, with stimulation at low resveratrol concentrations and suppression at high concentrations. Similarly, the compound was found to induce a significant enhancement at low concentrations and suppression at high concentrations of both CTL and NK cell cytotoxic activity. On the whole, the results of the study indicate that resveratrol modulates several human immune cell functions and suggest that this activity may be related to its effects on cytokine production by both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Culture Media, Conditioned / chemistry
  • Culture Media, Conditioned / metabolism
  • Cytokines / analysis
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / drug effects*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / drug effects
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Monocytes / drug effects*
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • Monocytes / metabolism
  • Resveratrol
  • Stilbenes / pharmacology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • Cytokines
  • Stilbenes
  • Resveratrol