Resveratrol glucuronides as the metabolites of resveratrol in humans: characterization, synthesis, and anti-HIV activity

J Pharm Sci. 2004 Oct;93(10):2448-57. doi: 10.1002/jps.20156.


Resveratrol is a natural product with diverse biological activities. We have previously reported that resveratrol possesses potent synergistic inhibitory activity against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 infection in combination with nucleoside analogs (Heredia et al. 2000. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 25:246-255). As a part of our program in developing resveratrol as a component for anti-HIV chemotherapy, we describe in this article the characterization, chemical synthesis, and biological effects of the human metabolites of resveratrol. We found that resveratrol was metabolized in humans into two metabolites, which were characterized as resveratrol-3-O- and 4'-O-glucuronides. For further biological studies, we reported two simple, alternative methods for the synthesis of the metabolites. The cytotoxic and antiviral activities of resveratrol and its metabolites were compared in cell culture experiments using human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Whereas resveratrol was cytotoxic at > or =30 microM, no cytotoxicity was observed for the metabolites at concentrations as high as 300 microM. However, resveratrol showed strong synergistic anti-HIV activity with didanosine at 10 microM, but no synergistic effects were observed for either of the metabolites at up to 300 microM. Nevertheless, the in vitro activity of the metabolites (resveratrol glucuronides) may not necessarily reflect their in vivo function, given the fact that the ubiquitously existing human beta-glucuronidase could convert the metabolites back to resveratrol locally or systematically in vivo. The present studies have implications for future development of resveratrol and/or its derivatives as a chemotherapeutic agent.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Anti-HIV Agents / metabolism*
  • Anti-HIV Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-HIV Agents / toxicity
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Didanosine / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Synergism
  • Glucuronides / chemical synthesis
  • Glucuronides / metabolism*
  • Glucuronides / pharmacology
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Hydrolysis
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / cytology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / drug effects
  • Resveratrol
  • Stilbenes / chemical synthesis
  • Stilbenes / metabolism*
  • Stilbenes / pharmacology
  • Stilbenes / toxicity
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Time Factors


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Glucuronides
  • Stilbenes
  • resveratrol-4'-O-glucuronide
  • Didanosine
  • Resveratrol