Resveratrol inhibits hypoxia-induced accumulation of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α and VEGF expression in human tongue squamous cell carcinoma and hepatoma cells

Qunzhou Zhang, Xudong Tang, Qing Yi Lu, Zuo Feng Zhang, Jimmy Brown, Anh D. Le

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160 Scopus citations


Hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) is overexpressed in many human tumors and their metastases, and is closely associated with a more aggressive tumor phenotype. In this study, we investigated the effect of resveratrol, a natural product commonly found in grapes and various other fruits, on hypoxia-induced HIF-1α protein accumulation and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression in human tongue squamous cell carcinomas and hepatoma cells. Our results showed that resveratrol significantly inhibited both basal level and hypoxia-induced HIF-1α protein accumulation in cancer cells, but did not affect HIF-1α mRNA levels. Pretreatment of cells with resveratrol significantly reduced hypoxia-induced VEGF promoter activities and VEGF expression at both mRNA and protein levels. The mechanism of resveratrol inhibition of hypoxia-induced HIF-1α accumulation seems to involve a gradually shortened half-life of HIF-1α protein caused by an enhanced protein degradation through the 26S proteasome system. In addition, resveratrol remarkably inhibited hypoxia-mediated activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 and Akt, leading to a marked decrease in hypoxia-induced HIF-1α protein accumulation and VEGF transcriptional activation. Functionally, we observed that resveratrol also significantly inhibited the hypoxia-stimulated invasiveness of cancer cells. These data suggested that HIF-1α/VEGF could be a promising drug target for resveratrol in the development of an effective chemopreventive and anticancer therapy in human cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1465-1474
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular cancer therapeutics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2005


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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