Immortalization of epithelial progenitor cells mediated by resveratrol

Oncogene. 2008 Apr 10;27(17):2365-74. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1210886. Epub 2007 Oct 29.


Within the hierarchy of epithelial stem cells, normal progenitor cells may express regulated telomerase during renewal cycles of proliferation and differentiation. Discontinuous telomerase activity may promote increased renewal capacity of progenitor cells, while deregulated/continuous telomerase activity may promote immortalization when differentiation and/or senescent pathways are compromised. In the present work, we show that resveratrol activates, while progesterone inactivates, continuous telomerase activity within 24 h in subpopulations of human Li-Fraumeni syndrome-derived breast epithelial cells. Resveratrol results in immortalization of mixed progenitor cells with mutant p53, but not human epithelial cells with wild type p53. Our results demonstrate the potential for renewing progenitor cells with mutant p53 to immortalize after continuous telomerase expression when exposed to certain environmental compounds. Understanding the effects of telomerase modulators on endogenous telomerase activity in progenitor cells is relevant to the role of immortalization in the initiation and progression of cancer subtypes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cell Separation / methods*
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology*
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Progesterone / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Resveratrol
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Stilbenes / pharmacology*
  • Telomerase / metabolism


  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Stilbenes
  • Progesterone
  • Telomerase
  • Resveratrol