Researchers studying the actions of trans-resveratrol (Res), a
natural substance found in red wine, are one step closer to discovering
the molecular basis for its chemopreventive and anti-inflammatory
effects. The new data may explain how red wine protects against
cardiovascular disease and certain cancers - the so-called "French
Minnie Holmes-McNary and Albert Baldwin (University of North Carolina,
NC, USA) used human and rat cell lines to determine the actions
of Res - known to mediate cancer chemopreventive activity in animals
- on transcription factor NF-kB. NF -kB is required by tumour
cells for proliferation and , once activated by a key regulatory
complex IKK, NF -kB is able to translocate into the nucleus of
cells and activate gene expression. Activated NF -kB has been
found in primary breast tumours and works, in part, by preventing
normal apoptosis (programmed cell death) of potentially cancerous
"We showed that Res was a potent inhibitor of both NF -kB activation
and NF -kB dependent gene expression", reports Holmes McNary (Cancer
Res 2000; 60: 3477-83). Furthermore, Res induced apoptosis of
potentially cancerous cells.
"Our results suggest that the major mechanism whereby Res blocks
NF -kB activity is through the inhibition of IKK activity." This
finding may partly explain how Res could inhibit onco-genic and
inflammatory disease in human beings.
John Pezzuto (Universty of Illinois, Chicago, IL USA) explains
that there is currently much interest in Resveratrol as it can
be obtained from the diet. "While its likely that alteration of
NF-kB is not only a mechanism facilitated by Res", he states,
"these findings represent an important piece of the overall puzzle".
The National Cancer Institute has recently initiated preclinical
toxicity studies on Resveratrol that should lead to clinical trials.