Anti-cancer effect of resveratrol is associated with induction of apoptosis via a mitochondrial pathway alignment

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2008:614:179-86. doi: 10.1007/978-0-387-74911-2_21.


Resveratrol, a phytoalexin found in the skin of grapes, is believed to have multiple bioactivities including anti-cancer, anti-carcinogenesis and antiinflammatory. The mechanisms by which resveratrol might produce these effects are not well understood. In this study, malignant human pancreatic cancer cells were treated without or with resveratrol in combination with ionizing radiation (IR), and then the mitochondrial function of treated cells was evaluated using several standardized assays. They include the Calcein AM method for mitochondria transition pore; the JC-1 staining method for mitochondria membrane potential; the CM-H2DCFDA method for reactive oxygen species; and the Annexin V/propidium iodide (PI) method for apoptosis/cell death. Our results indicated that (1) pore function was partially intact after resveratrol, but resveratrol probably interfered with the accumulation of intracellular Calcein AM; (2) depolarization of the mitochondria membrane was increased in the resveratrol treated cells, consistent with mitochondrial dysfunction; (3) ROS was slightly increased with resveratrol, a phenomenon that was greatly increased when this agent was combined with IR; and (4) in parallel with the above changes in mitochondrial and drug transport, cells treated with resveratrol showed increased apoptosis as measured by Annexin V/PI staining. In summary, the anti-cancer effect of resveratrol is associated with the damage of mitochondrial function that leads to increased ROS, apoptosis, and possibly intracellular drug accumulation via inhibition of proteins involved in multi-drug resistance (MDR).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Benzimidazoles / metabolism
  • Carbocyanines / metabolism
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fluoresceins / analysis
  • Fluoresceins / metabolism
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Humans
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / drug effects
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / metabolism
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / analysis
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Resveratrol
  • Stilbenes / pharmacology*


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Benzimidazoles
  • Carbocyanines
  • Fluoresceins
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Stilbenes
  • calcein AM
  • 5,5',6,6'-tetrachloro-1,1',3,3'-tetraethylbenzimidazolocarbocyanine
  • Resveratrol