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J Nutr. 2010 Jan;140(1):1-6. doi: 10.3945/jn.109.112359. Epub 2009 Nov 4.

Antiangiogenic effects of indole-3-carbinol and 3,3'-diindolylmethane are associated with their differential regulation of ERK1/2 and Akt in tube-forming HUVEC.

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Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, Graduate School of Nutritional and Environmental Sciences, University of Shizuoka, Shizuoka 422-8526, Japan.


We previously reported that indole-3-carbinol (I3C), found in cruciferous vegetables, suppresses angiogenesis in vivo and in vitro. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms still remain unclear. Antiangiogenic effects of its major metabolite, 3,3'-diindolylmethane (DIM), also have not been fully elucidated. In this study, we investigated the effects of these indoles on angiogenesis and tested a hypothesis that I3C and DIM inhibit angiogenesis and induce apoptosis by affecting angiogenic signal transduction in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). We found that I3C and DIM at 25 micromol/L significantly inhibited tube formation and only DIM induced a significant increase in apoptosis in tube-forming HUVEC. DIM showed a stronger antiangiogenic activity than I3C. At the molecular level, I3C and DIM markedly inactivated extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) and the inhibitory effect of DIM was significantly greater than that of I3C. DIM treatment also resulted in activation of the caspase pathway and inactivation of Akt, whereas I3C did not affect them. These results indicate that I3C and DIM had a differential potential in the regulation of the 2 principal survival signals, ERK1/2 and Akt, in endothelial cells. We also demonstrated that pharmacological inhibition of ERK1/2 and/or Akt was enough to inhibit tube formation and induce caspase-dependent apoptosis in tube-forming HUVEC. We conclude that both I3C and DIM inhibit angiogenesis at least in part via inactivation of ERK1/2 and that inactivation of Akt by DIM is responsible for its stronger antiangiogenic effects than those of I3C.

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