Resveratrol and capsaicin used together as food complements reduce tumor growth and rescue full efficiency of low dose gemcitabine in a pancreatic cancer model

Cancer Lett. 2017 Apr 1;390:91-102. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2017.01.002. Epub 2017 Jan 13.


Pancreatic adenocarcinoma, highly resistant to all current anti-cancer treatments, necessitates new approaches promoting cell death. We hypothesized that combined actions of several Bioactive Food Components (BFCs) might provide specific lethal effect towards tumor cells, sparing healthy cells. Human tumor pancreatic cell lines were tested in vitro for sensitivity to resveratrol, capsaicin, piceatannol, and sulforaphane cytotoxic effects. Combination of two or three components showed striking synergetic effect with gemcitabine in vitro. Each BFC used alone did not affect pancreatic tumor growth in a preclinical in vivo model, whereas couples of BFCs had anti-tumor activity. In addition, tumor toxicity was similar using gemcitabine alone or a combination of BFCs and two thirds of gemcitabine dose. Moreover, BFCs enhanced fibrotic response as compared to gemcitabine treatment alone. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) and apoptosis increases were observed, while cell cycle was very mildly affected. This study raises the possibility to use BFCs as beneficial food complements in the therapy of pancreatic adenocarcinoma, especially for patients unable to receive full doses of chemotherapy.

Keywords: Bioactive food component; Capsaicin; Pancreatic cancer; Resveratrol; Sulforaphane.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Capsaicin / pharmacology*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Deoxycytidine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Deoxycytidine / therapeutic use
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Gemcitabine
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Resveratrol
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Stilbenes / pharmacology*


  • Stilbenes
  • Deoxycytidine
  • Resveratrol
  • Capsaicin
  • Gemcitabine

Supplementary concepts

  • Pancreatic Carcinoma