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J Nutr. 2007 Oct;137(10):2185-9.

Cruciferous indole-3-carbinol inhibits apolipoprotein B secretion in HepG2 cells.

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Division of Medical Technology, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA.


The cardioprotective effect of consuming cruciferous vegetables may be attributed to a number of unique indole-based compounds. We investigated the potential role and mechanism of action of an indole-based compound, indole-3-carbinol (I-3-C), on apolipoprotein B-100 (apoB) production using HepG2 cells. I-3-C reduced apoB secretion into the media dose dependently by 56% at 100 micromol/L. Relative to the untreated control cells, no change in the density of the secreted lipoproteins was noted. Significant decreases in cellular lipid synthesis, including triglycerides (TG) and cholesterol esters (CE), were observed in cells treated with I-3-C, indicating that limited lipid availability is a major factor in the regulation of apoB secretion. The decrease in TG synthesis was associated with significantly decreased diacylglycerol acyltransferase-1 and -2 activity and reduced fatty acid synthase (FASN) gene expression. The decreased CE synthesis was associated with significantly decreased acyl CoA:cholesterol acyltransferase gene expression and activity. The effect on FASN was shown to be mediated by sterol regulatory element binding protein-1, an important transcription factor involved in fatty acid synthesis. Further investigative work revealed that LDL uptake and fatty acid oxidation were not involved in the I-3-C-mediated reduction of apoB secretion. The results indicate that plant indoles have beneficial effects on lipid synthesis that could contribute to their potential cardioprotective effect.

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