Resveratrol, a compound found in grape skins and red wine that has been linked to a host of health benefits, has been found to be a potent ally in the treatment of prostate cancer tumors, in preliminary studies.
A University of Missouri researcher has found tumor cells are more susceptible to radiation treatment after being exposed to resveratrol, which has also been found to boost cardiovascular health and lower the risk of stroke.
"Other studies have noted that resveratrol made tumor cells more susceptible to chemotherapy, and we wanted to see if it had the same effect for radiation therapy," said Michael Nicholl, an assistant professor of surgical oncology in the MU School of Medicine. "We found that when exposed to the compound, the tumor cells were more susceptible to radiation treatment, but that the effect was greater than just treating with both compounds separately."
Prostate tumor cells contain trace amounts of two proteins — known as perforin and granzyme B — that can work together to kill cells, Nicholl explained. He found when tumors were treated with resveratrol in laboratory studies, the activity of the two proteins increased greatly. What’s more, when the compound was used in conjunction with radiation treatment, up to 97 percent of the tumor cells died — a much higher percentage than treatment with radiation alone.
"It is critical that both proteins, perforin and granzyme B, are present in order to kill the tumor cells, and we found that the resveratrol helped to increase their activity in prostate tumor cells," Nicholl said. "Following the resveratrol-radiation treatment, we realized that we were able to kill many more tumor cells when compared with treating the tumor with radiation alone. It's important to note that this killed all types of prostate tumor cells, including aggressive tumor cells."
Nicholl said researchers will now test the combo treatment in animals, with the hope of conducting clinical trials in cancer patients in the future.
His research was published in the Journal of Andrology and Cancer Science.