Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and aggressive primary brain tumor. Patients diagnosed with GBM have a poor prognosis, and it has been reported that tumor malignancy and GBM recurrence are promoted by STAT3 signaling. As resveratrol (RV), a polyphenol in grapes, is reported to be a potent and non-toxic cancer-preventive compound, the aim of this study was to investigate the therapeutic effect and molecular mechanisms of RV on GBM-derived radioresistant tumor initiating cells (TIC). Firstly, our results showed that primary GBM-CD133(+) TIC presented high tumorigenic and radiochemoresistant properties as well as increased protein levels of phosphorylated STAT3. We consistently observed that treatment with shRNA-STAT3 (sh-STAT3) or AG490, a STAT3 inhibitor, significantly inhibited the cancer stem-like cell properties and radioresistance of GBM-CD133(+) in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, treatment of GBM-CD133(+) with 100 µM RV induced apoptosis and enhanced radiosensitivity by suppressing STAT3 signaling. Microarray results suggested that RV or AG490 inhibited the stemness gene signatures of GBM-CD133(+) and facilitated the differentiation of GBM-CD133(+) into GBM-CD133(-) or astrocytoma cells. Finally, xenotransplant experiments indicated that RV or sh-STAT3 therapy could significantly improve the survival rate and synergistically enhance the radiosensitivity of radiation-treated GBM-TIC. In summary, RV can reduce in vivo tumorigenicity and enhance the sensitivity of GBM-TIC to radiotherapies through the STAT3 pathway.
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