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AAPS J. 2013 Jul;15(3):864-74. doi: 10.1208/s12248-013-9493-3. Epub 2013 May 9.

Epigenetic modifications of Nrf2 by 3,3'-diindolylmethane in vitro in TRAMP C1 cell line and in vivo TRAMP prostate tumors.

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Center for Cancer Prevention Research, Department of Pharmaceutics, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Room 228, 160 Frelinghuysen Road, Piscataway, New Jersey, 08854, USA.


3,3'-diindolylmethane (DIM) is currently being investigated in many clinical trials including prostate, breast, and cervical cancers and has been shown to possess anticancer effects in several in vivo and in vitro models. Previously, DIM has been reported to possess cancer chemopreventive effects in prostate carcinogenesis in TRAMP mice; however, the in vivo mechanism is unclear. The present study aims to investigate the in vitro and in vivo epigenetics modulation of DIM in TRAMP-C1 cells and in TRAMP mouse model. In vitro study utilizing TRAMP-C1 cells showed that DIM suppressed DNMT expression and reversed CpG methylation status of Nrf2 resulting in enhanced expression of Nrf2 and Nrf2-target gene NQO1. In vivo study, TRAMP mice fed with DIM-supplemented diet showed much lower incidence of tumorigenesis and metastasis than the untreated control group similar to what was reported previously. DIM increased apoptosis, decreased cell proliferation and enhanced Nrf2 and Nrf2-target gene NQO1 expression in prostate tissues. Importantly, immunohistochemical analysis showed that DIM reduced the global CpG 5-methylcytosine methylation. Focusing on one of the early cancer chemopreventive target gene Nrf2, bisulfite genomic sequencing showed that DIM decreased the methylation status of the first five CpGs of the Nrf2 promoter region, corroborating with the results of in vitro TRAMP-C1 cells. In summary, our current study shows that DIM is a potent cancer chemopreventive agent for prostate cancer and epigenetic modifications of the CpG including Nrf2 could be a potential mechanism by which DIM exerts its chemopreventive effects.

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