Resveratrol, Grape Seed Combination Suppresses Colon Cancer Stem Cells

Grape compounds may be an effective treatment option for colon cancer patients.

Grape compounds effectively suppressed colon cancer stem cells (CSCs), a new study found.

Prior research shows that the grape bioactive compound resveratrol (RSV) and grape seed extracts (GSE) can induce colon cancer cell death. However, the efficacy of the combination against colon cancer stem cells remained unclear.

In a study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the investigators used isolated human colon CSCs in vitro and an azoxymethane-induced mouse model of colon carcinogenesis in vivo to test the anti-cancer properties of the RSV-GSE combination.

Mice administered the potent carcinogen azoxymethane (AOM)—–used to induce colon cancer––developed tumors. The 52 mice were then separated into 3 groups: the control; the arm fed the grape compounds; and mice fed the anti-inflammatory drug sulindac.

The results of the study showed that the incidence of AOM-induced tumors was suppressed in the RSV-GSE group by more than 50%.

“The combination of resveratrol and grape seed extract is very effective at killing colon cancer cells,” said author Jairam K.P. Vanamala. “And what we’re learning is the combination of these compounds is not toxic to healthy cells.”

The authors noted that the findings may lead to clinical testing of the compound in human colon cancer in the future. If proven effective, the compounds could be put in pill form to prevent colon cancer and lessen cancer recurrence in survivors.

“We are particularly interested in targeting stem cells because, according to cancer stem cell theory, cancerous tumors are driven by cancer stem cells,” Vanamala said. “Cancer stem cells are capable of self-renewal, cellular differentiation, and maintain their stem cell-like characteristics even after invasion and metastasis.”

When low doses of resveratrol and grape seed extract are used separately, their efficacy against cancer stem cell suppression decreases compared with its use in combination.

Vanamala commented that the combined effect may provide insight into why cultures that consume a plant-based diet tend to have lower rates of colon cancer.

“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,” Vanamala said “This seems to be beneficial for not only promoting bacterial diversity, but also preventing chronic diseases and eliminating the colon cancer stem cells.”

Although the findings show promise, the authors stressed that more research needs to be done to understand the mechanisms of the grape extract’s anti-cancer properties.