A metabolic perturbation by U0126 identifies a role for glutamine in resveratrol-induced cell death

Michael R. Freeman, Jayoung Kim, Michael P. Lisanti, Dolores Di Vizio

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Recent evidence has identified substantial overlap between metabolic and oncogenic biochemical pathways, suggesting novel approaches to cancer intervention. For example, cholesterol lowering statins and the antidiabetes medication metformin both act as chemopreventive agents in prostate and other cancers. The natural compound resveratrol has similar properties: increasing insulin sensitivity, suppressing adipogenesis, and inducing apoptotic death of cancer cells in vitro. However, in vivo tumor xenografts acquire resistance to resveratrol by an unknown mechanism, while mouse models of metabolic disorders respond more consistently to the compound. Here we demonstrate that castrationresistant human prostate cancer C4-2 cells are more sensitive to resveratrol-induced apoptosis than isogenic androgendependent LNCaP cells. The MEK inhibitor U0126 antagonized resveratrol-induced apoptosis in C4-2 cells, but this effect was not seen with other MEK inhibitors. U0126 was found to inhibit mitochondrial function and shift cells to aerobic glycolysis independently of MEK. Mitochondrial activity of U0126 arose through decomposition, producing both mitochondrial fluorescence and cyanide, a known inhibitor of complex IV. Applying U0126 mitochondrial inhibition to C4-2 cell apoptosis, we tested the possibility that glutamine supplementation of citric acid cycle intermediate aketoglutarate may be involved. Suppression of the conversion of glutamate to a-ketoglutarate antagonized resveratrolinduced death in C4-2 cells. A similar effect was also seen by reducing extracellular glutamine concentration in the culture medium, suggesting that resveratrol-induced death is dependent on glutamine metabolism, a process frequently dysregulated in cancer. Further work on resveratrol and metabolism in cancer is warranted to ascertain if the glutamine dependence has clinical implications. © 2011 Landes Bioscience.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)966-977
    Number of pages11
    JournalCancer Biology and Therapy
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011


    • Aerobic glycolysis
    • Cancer metabolism
    • Mitochondrial function
    • Prostate cancer
    • Therapeutic targets


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