Resveratrol induces extensive apoptosis by depolarizing mitochondrial membranes and activating caspase-9 in acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells

J. Dörrie, H. Gerauer, Y. Wachter, S. J. Zunino

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292 Scopus citations


Reveratrol, a plant antibiotic, has been found anticancer activity and was recently reported to induce apoptosis in the myeloid leukemia line HL60 by the CD95-CD95 ligand pathway. However, many acute lymphoblastic leukemias (ALLs), particularly of B-lineage, are resistant to CD95-mediated apoptosis. Using leukemia lines derived from patients with pro-B t(4;11), pre-B, and T-cell ALL, we show in this report that resveratrol induces extensive apoptotic cell death not only in CD95sensitive leukemia lines, but also in B-lineage leukemic cells that are resistant to CD95-signaling. Multiple dose treatments of the leukemic cells with 50 μM resveratrol resulted in ≥80% cell death with no statistically significant cytotoxicity against normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells under identical conditions. Resveratrol treatment did not increase CD95 expression or trigger sensitivity to CD95-mediated apoptosis in the ALL lines. Inhibition of CD95-signaling with a CD95-specific antagonistic antibody indicated that CD95-CD95 ligand interactions were not involved in initiating resveratrol-induced apoptosis. However, in each ALL line, resveratrol induced progressive loss of mitochondrial membrane potential as measured by the dual emission pattern of the mitochondria-selective dye JC-1. The broad spectrum caspase inhibitor benzyloxycarbonyl-Val-Ala Asp-fluoromethylketone failed to block the depolarization of mitochondrial membranes induced by resveratrol, further indicating that resveratrol action was independent of upstream caspase-8 activation via receptor ligation. However, increases in caspase-9 activity ranged from 4- to 9-fold in the eight cell lines after treatment with resveratrol. Taken together, these results point to a general mechanism of apoptosis induction by resveratrol in ALL cells that involves a mitochondria/caspase-9-specific pathway for the activation of the caspase cascade and is independent of CD95-signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4731-4739
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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