Resveratrol, a polyphenol found in red wine, is known to have anticancer properties; however, scientists had thought that it was metabolized so quickly by the body that it would be ineffective in clinical trials. Nevertheless, researchers at the University of Leicester's Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine in the United Kingdom have found that this is not the case. Professor Karen Brown and colleagues found that resveratrol can still be taken into cells after it has been metabolised into resveratrol sulfates. Once in the cell, enzymes then break down the sulfate metabolite, converting it back to resveratrol again. In fact, the results appeared to show that resveratrol may be more effective once it has been generated from resveratrol sulfate because the cellular concentrations achieved are higher. Encouragingly, the study also showed that resveratrol generated from resveratrol sulfate is able to slow the growth of cancer cells by causing them to digest their own internal constituents and stopping them from dividing. "Our study was the first to show that resveratrol can be regenerated from sulfate metabolites in cells and that this resveratrol can then have biological activity that could be useful in a wide variety of diseases in humans,” said Professor Brown. "Importantly, we did all our work with clinically achievable concentrations so we are hopeful that our findings will translate to humans.
KR Patel, C Andreadi, RG Britton, E Horner-Glister, A Karmokar, S Sale, et al. “Sulfate metabolites provide an intracellular pool for resveratrol generation and induce autophagy with senescence.” Sci Transl Med. 2013;5:p. 205ra133.
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