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Cancer Res. 2007 Jul 1;67(13):6502-11.

Indole-3-carbinol inhibits 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone plus benzo(a)pyrene-induced lung tumorigenesis in A/J mice and modulates carcinogen-induced alterations in protein levels.

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  • 1Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA.


We tested the chemopreventive efficacy of indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a constituent of Brassica vegetables, and its major condensation product, 3,3'-diindolylmethane (DIM), against lung tumorigenesis induced by a mixture of 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) and benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) in A/J mice. The mixture of NNK plus BaP (2 micromol each) was administered by gavage as eight weekly doses, whereas I3C (112 micromol/g diet) and DIM (2 and 30 micromol/g diet in experiments 1 and 2, respectively) were given in the diet for 23 weeks beginning at 50% of carcinogen treatment. I3C reduced NNK plus BaP-induced tumor multiplicity by 78% in experiment 1 and 86% in experiment 2; the respective reductions in tumor multiplicity by DIM were 5% and 66%. Using a quantitative proteomics method, isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantitation (iTRAQ) coupled with mass spectrometry, we identified and quantified at least 250 proteins in lung tissues. Of these proteins, nine showed differences in relative abundance in lung tissues of carcinogen-treated versus untreated mice: fatty acid synthase, transketolase, pulmonary surfactant-associated protein C (SP-C), L-plastin, annexin A1, and haptoglobin increased, whereas transferrin, alpha-1-antitrypsin, and apolipoprotein A-1 decreased. Supplementation of the diet of carcinogen-treated mice with I3C reduced the level of SP-C, L-plastin, annexin A1, and haptoglobin to that of untreated controls. These results were verified using immunoblotting. We show here that tumor-associated signature proteins are increased during NNK plus BaP-induced lung carcinogenesis, and I3C inhibits this effect, suggesting that the lung tumor chemopreventive activity of I3C might be related to modulation of carcinogen-induced alterations in protein levels.

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