2,3',4,4',5'-Pentamethoxy-trans-stilbene, a resveratrol derivative, is a potent inducer of apoptosis in colon cancer cells via targeting microtubules

Biochem Pharmacol. 2009 Nov 1;78(9):1224-32. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2009.06.109. Epub 2009 Jul 8.


Resveratrol, a naturally occurring polyphenolic antioxidant, is a compound holding promise for cancer chemoprevention. Previous studies suggest that 2,3',4,5'-tetramethoxy-trans-stilbene (TMS) and 3,4,4',5,-tetramethoxy-trans-stilbene (MR-4), both of which are derivatives of resveratrol, are potent apoptosis-inducing agents with clinical potential. In this study, we chemically synthesized 2,3',4,4',5'-pentamethoxy-trans-stilbene (PMS), the hybrid molecule of TMS and MR-4, and determined its effects on colon cancer growth. When compared with its parent compounds, PMS displayed more potent in vitro anti-mitogenic effect on colon cancer cells (Caco-2, HT-29 and SW1116). Moreover, PMS inhibited tumor growth in vivo in a colon cancer xenograft model. In this connection, PMS strongly induced apoptosis in HT-29 cells as evidenced by increased PARP cleavage, DNA fragmentation, and accumulation of sub-G(1) population. Further mechanistic analysis revealed that PMS enhanced the polymerization of microtubules, which was followed by G(2)/M mitotic arrest and caspase-dependent apoptosis. The activation of caspases-3, -7, -8, and -9 was involved in PMS-induced apoptosis with concomitant down-regulation of the pro-survival PI3K/Akt signaling. Collectively, these data suggest that PMS is a potent inducer of apoptosis via targeting microtubules and may merit investigation as a potential chemoprophylactic and therapeutic agent for colon cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Colonic Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • G2 Phase
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Microtubules / drug effects*
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases / metabolism
  • Stilbenes / pharmacology*


  • 2,3',4,4',5'-pentamethoxystilbene
  • Stilbenes
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases
  • Caspases