- A compound found in grapes called resveratrol may help kill colon cancer cells
- Resveratrol is an antioxidant that has anti-cancer properties
- In a study conducted on mice, resveratrol suppressed colon cancer stem cells by 50 percent
Resveratrol, a compound found in grapes may kill colon cancer cells, finds research.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.
Resveratrol is found in grape skins and seeds and could lead to treatments to help prevent colon cancer. The research team found that resveratrol killed colon cancer stem cells both in petri dish and in mice.
‘Bioactive components from grapes, resveratrol and grape seed extract can suppress colon cancer stem cells.’
Resveratrol as a Treatment for Colon Cancer
Grapes are a rich source of many bioactive compounds. Red grapes contain resveratrol, an antioxidant which has anti-cancer properties. Studies have shown that resveratrol can suppress proliferation and induced apoptosis by p53 activation against colon cancer cells. However, resveratrol can kill colon cancer cells only at higher concentrations. Grape seed extract, which is commonly used as a dietary supplement is rich in proanthocyanidins. Studies have shown that grape seed extract has anti-colon cancer properties in both in vitro and in vivo models.
For the current study, the research team separated 52 mice with colon cancer tumors into three groups, including one control group and groups that were fed either the grape compounds or sulindac, an anti-inflammatory drug. Sulindac was chosen for the study because previous study showed that it significantly reduced the number of tumors in humans.
Colon cancer tumors were suppressed in mice consuming the grape compounds alone by 50 percent.
The results showed that supplementation of low doses of resveratrol and grape seed extract separately were not as effective against cancer stem-cell suppression as when they are combined together. The combined effect of grape seed extract and resveratrol may offer clues as to why a plant-based diet tend to have lower colon cancer rates, said Vanamala, who is also a faculty member at the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute.
According to cancer stem-cell theory, cancerous tumors are driven by cancer stem cells. Thus the research team targeted colon cancer stem cells. These cancer stem cells are capable of self-renewal, cellular differentiation and maintain their stem cell-like characteristics even after invasion and metastasis.
Plant-based diets may be a natural approach to cancer prevention. A variety of plant compounds may be used to target multiple pathways that cancer stem cells use to survive.
"The combination of resveratrol and grape seed extract is very effective at killing colon cancer cells. And what we're learning is the combination of these compounds is not toxic to healthy cells," said Vanamala.
"This also connects well with a plant-based diet that is structured so that the person is getting a little bit of different types of plants, of different parts of the plant and different colors of the plant. This seems to be beneficial for not only promoting bacterial diversity, but also preventing chronic diseases and eliminating the colon cancer stem cells," said Vanamala.
The research team hopes to understand the mechanism behind anti-cancer properties of grape extract and also conduct human trials. Low doses of grape seed extract and resveratrol can be taken in prevent cancer risk.
The study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine
, suggests that the findings could pave the way for clinical testing of the compounds on human colon cancer. These bioactive compounds could be used in a pill to help prevent colon cancer and lessen the recurrence of the disease in colon cancer survivors.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States. Regular screening can help detect colon cancer early. However, a majority of colon cancer is detected at the last stage. Unhealthy diet and lifestyle are the main factors that contribute to colon cancer. A meta-analysis found that consumption of fruits and vegetables can decrease the risk of colon cancer by 13 percent.
Lavanya Reddivari, Venkata Charepalli, Sridhar Radhakrishnan, Ramakrishna Vadde, Ryan J. Elias, Joshua D. Lambert, Jairam K. P. Vanamala. Grape compounds suppress colon cancer stem cells in vitro and in a rodent model of colon carcinogenesis. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, (2016); 16 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s12906-016-1254-2