Chemical in Wine May Improve Mesothelioma Treatment

grape wine

There’s new evidence that a compound found in red wine may help improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Last year, a team of Korean researchers released the world’s first study on the mesothelioma-fighting power of resveratrol, a natural phenol derived from the skin of red grapes and found in red wine and grape juice. Now, the same team says resveratrol also appears to enhance the chemosensitivity of malignant mesothelioma cells.

Study author Yoon-Jin Lee and colleagues discovered  a synergistic cancer-fighting effect in mesothelioma cells treated with both resveratrol and clofarabine, a prescription drug often used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Together, resveratrol and clofarabine “induced a strong cytotoxic effect” by influencing levels of the tumor suppressor, p53.  The combination caused p53 to accumulate in the nuclei of mesothelioma cells, triggering a higher rate of apoptosis (cell death), but did not affect normal mesothelial cells.

The team summarized their findings in Food and Chemical Toxicology: “These results demonstrate that resveratrol and clofarabine synergistically elicit apoptotic signal via a p53-dependent pathway.” They go on to say that the study provides a “scientific rationale” for using resveratrol to improve chemotherapy in malignant mesothelioma.

In the first study on resveratrol and mesothelioma in 2012, the researchers treated mesothelioma-infected lab mice with 20 mg/kg of resveratrol daily for 4 weeks. The treated mice experienced suppressed tumor growth and increased mesothelioma cell death.

Although the researchers stop short of recommending red wine as part of a mesothelioma treatment regimen, their results do suggest that resveratrol may eventually be incorporated into treatment of this rare but aggressive cancer. About 2,500 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year.   In Korea, where rates remain high, mesothelioma incidence is not expected to peak until 2045.

Important: If you are interested in taking resveratrol or incorporating it into a treatment regimen be sure to speak to your doctor.


Lee, YJ, “Resveratrol contributes to chemosensitivity of malignant mesothelioma cells with activation of p53”, November 13, 2012, Food and Chemical Toxicology, Epub ahead of print.
Lee, KA et al, “The flavonoid resveratrol suppresses growth of human malignant pleural mesothelioma cells through direct inhibition of specificity protein 1”,  April 23, 2012, International Jounral of Molecular Medicine, Epub ahead of print.

Similar Posts