A promising area of benefit may lie in resveratrol’s ability to overcome the resistance many cancers develop to conventional chemotherapy drugs, such as vincristine, Adriamycin, doxorubicin, paclitaxel, and cisplatin. Chemoresistance is considered a major obstacle in cancer treatment. Even worse, it can sometimes develop against multiple drugs in the same cancer. Resistance occurs in different ways:42

  • Moving drugs out of the tumor cells.
  • Inactivating the drug by chemical changes to it.
  • Changes to the levels of or inactivating the target molecules.
  • Activation of other survival mechanisms, such as changes in cell cycle that enhance survival.

Each mode is controlled by the activity of different types of proteins. Increased levels of a particular protein may indicate which survival mechanism is making the tumor resistant to treatment. Some substances, such as resveratrol, can stimulate or inhibit these proteins and help overcome chemoresistance.42

Lab and animal studies show that resveratrol can help outsmart the survival mechanisms a number of cancers have against some specific chemotherapy drugs, many by inhibiting survivin and NF-κB, proteins that promote cancer cell survival. However, experts caution that in lab and animal studies resveratrol reduced the effectiveness of the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel, hydrogen peroxide, and the combination vincristine and daunorubicin against specific cancer cell lines:42

  • Neuroblastoma (SH-SY5Y) – paclitaxel
  • Leukemia – hydrogen peroxide, vincristinem, daunorubicin
  • Bladder cancer (5637) – paclitaxel
  • Breast cancer (MDA-MB-435s, MDA-MB-231, and SKBR-3, but not MCF-7) – paclitaxel

In the case of paclitaxel, resveratrol blocks the cancer cells from entering the cell division phase that paclitaxel exerts its toxic effects in. Interestingly, the same types of studies show when resveratrol is used by itself it blocks this cell division activity, in effect acting as a chemotherapy agent against cancer cells:

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Also vincristine, gefitinib, 5-fluorouracil, velcade, and gemcitabine.

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