Resveratrol reverses the Warburg effect by targeting the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex in colon cancer cells

Sci Rep. 2017 Jul 31;7(1):6945. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-07006-0.


Resveratrol (RES), a polyphenol found in natural foods, displays anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative properties potentially beneficial in cancers, in particular in the prevention of tumor growth. However, the rapid metabolism of resveratrol strongly limits its bioavailability. The molecular mechanisms sustaining the potential biological activity of low doses of resveratrol has not been extensively studied and, thus, needs better characterization. Here, we show that resveratrol (10 µM, 48 hr) induces both a cell growth arrest and a metabolic reprogramming in colon cancer cells. Resveratrol modifies the lipidomic profile, increases oxidative capacities and decreases glycolysis, in association with a decreased pentose phosphate activity and an increased ATP production. Resveratrol targets the pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) complex, a key mitochondrial gatekeeper of energy metabolism, leading to an enhanced PDH activity. Calcium chelation, as well as the blockade of the mitochondrial calcium uniport, prevents the resveratrol-induced augmentation in oxidative capacities and the increased PDH activity suggesting that calcium might play a role in the metabolic shift. We further demonstrate that the inhibition of the CamKKB or the downstream AMPK pathway partly abolished the resveratrol-induced increase of glucose oxidation. This suggests that resveratrol might improve the oxidative capacities of cancer cells through the CamKKB/AMPK pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Availability
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Calcium Signaling / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival
  • Colonic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Colonic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Glycolysis / drug effects*
  • HCT116 Cells
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Complex / metabolism*
  • Resveratrol / pharmacokinetics
  • Resveratrol / pharmacology*


  • Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Complex
  • Resveratrol