Resveratrol exerts dosage and duration dependent effect on human mesenchymal stem cell development

PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e37162. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037162. Epub 2012 May 16.


Studies in the past have illuminated the potential benefit of resveratrol as an anticancer (pro-apoptosis) and life-extending (pro-survival) compound. However, these two different effects were observed at different concentration ranges. Studies of resveratrol in a wide range of concentrations on the same cell type are lacking, which is necessary to comprehend its diverse and sometimes contradictory cellular effects. In this study, we examined the effects of resveratrol on cell self-renewal and differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs), a type of adult stem cells that reside in a number of tissues, at concentrations ranging from 0.1 to 10 µM after both short- and long-term exposure. Our results reveal that at 0.1 µM, resveratrol promotes cell self-renewal by inhibiting cellular senescence, whereas at 5 µM or above, resveratrol inhibits cell self-renewal by increasing senescence rate, cell doubling time and S-phase cell cycle arrest. At 1 µM, its effect on cell self-renewal is minimal but after long-term exposure it exerts an inhibitory effect, accompanied with increased senescence rate. At all concentrations, resveratrol promotes osteogenic differentiation in a dosage dependent manner, which is offset by its inhibitory effect on cell self-renewal at high concentrations. On the contrary, resveratrol suppresses adipogenic differentiation during short-term exposure but promotes this process after long-term exposure. Our study implicates that resveratrol is the most beneficial to stem cell development at 0.1 µM and caution should be taken in applying resveratrol as an anticancer therapeutic agent or nutraceutical supplement due to its dosage dependent effect on hMSCs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cellular Senescence / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Osteogenesis / drug effects
  • Resveratrol
  • S Phase / drug effects
  • Stilbenes / pharmacology*


  • Stilbenes
  • Resveratrol