Resveratrol protects mouse embryonic stem cells from ionizing radiation by accelerating recovery from DNA strand breakage

Carcinogenesis. 2012 Jan;33(1):149-55. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgr236. Epub 2011 Nov 2.


Resveratrol has elicited many provocative anticancer effects in laboratory animals and cultured cells, including reduced levels of oxidative DNA damage, inhibition of tumor initiation and progression and induction of apoptosis in tumor cells. Use of resveratrol as a cancer-preventive agent in humans will require that its anticancer effects not be accompanied by damage to normal tissue stem or progenitor cells. In mouse embryonic stem cells (mESC) or early mouse embryos exposed to ethanol, resveratrol has been shown to suppress apoptosis and promote survival. However, in cells exposed to genotoxic stress, survival may come at the expense of genome stability. To learn whether resveratrol can protect stem cells from DNA damage and to study its effects on genomic integrity, we exposed mESC pretreated with resveratrol to ionizing radiation (IR). Forty-eight hours pretreatment with a comparatively low concentration of resveratrol (10 μM) improved survival of mESC >2-fold after exposure to 5 Gy of X-rays. Cells pretreated with resveratrol sustained the same levels of reactive oxygen species and DNA strand breakage after IR as mock-treated controls, but repaired DNA damage more rapidly and resumed cell division sooner. Frequencies of IR-induced mutation at a chromosomal reporter locus were not increased in cells pretreated with resveratrol as compared with controls, indicating that resveratrol can improve viability in mESC after DNA damage without compromising genomic integrity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle / radiation effects
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Division / radiation effects
  • Cell Survival / radiation effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA Breaks*
  • DNA Repair*
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide / pharmacology
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / radiation effects*
  • Genomic Instability
  • Mice
  • Radiation-Protective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Resveratrol
  • Stilbenes / pharmacology*


  • Radiation-Protective Agents
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Stilbenes
  • Resveratrol
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide