Resveratrol as a chemopreventive agent: a promising molecule for fighting cancer.
Resveratrol (3,4',5 tri-hydroxystilbene) is a phytoalexin produced in hudge amount in grapevine skin in response to infection by Bothrytis cinerea. This production of resveratrol blocks the proliferation of the pathogen, thereby acting as a natural antibiotic. Numerous studies have reported interesting properties of trans-resveratrol as a preventive agent against important pathologies i.e. vascular diseases, cancers, viral infection or neurodegenerative processes. Moreover, several epidemiological studies have revealed that resveratrol is probably one of the main microcomponents of wine responsible for its health benefits such as prevention of vaso-coronary diseases and cancer. Resveratrol acts on the process of carcinogenesis by affecting the three phases: tumor initiation, promotion and progression phases and suppresses the final steps of carcinogenesis, i.e. angiogenesis and metastasis. It is also able to activate apoptosis, to arrest the cell cycle or to inhibit kinase pathways. Interestingly, resveratrol does not present any cytotoxicity in animal models. Moreover, concentrations of resveratrol in blood seem to be sufficient for anti-invasive activity. The enterohepatic recirculation may contribute to a delayed elimination of the drug from the body and bring about a prolonged effect. By its binding to plasmatic proteins, resveratrol also exhibits a prolonged effect. Interestingly, low doses of resveratrol can sensitize to low doses of cytotoxic drugs and so provide an innovative strategy to enhance the efficacy of anticancer therapy in various human cancers. By these properties, resveratrol appears to be a good candidate in chemopreventive or chemotherapeutic strategies and is believed to be a novel weapon for new therapeutic strategies.