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Int Immunopharmacol. 2014 Dec;23(2):489-98. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2014.09.024. Epub 2014 Oct 1.

3, 3'-Diindolylmethane alleviates steatosis and the progression of NASH partly through shifting the imbalance of Treg/Th17 cells to Treg dominance.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Zhongshan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai 200032, China.
Department of Gastroenterology, Tongji Hospital Tongji University, Shanghai China.
Department of Gastroenterology, Zhongshan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai 200032, China. Electronic address:


This study was designed to discuss the effects of 3, 3'-diindolylmethane (DIM) on methionine-choline-deficient (MCD)-diet induced mouse nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and the potential mechanisms. NASH mice were administrated with or without DIM at different concentrations for 8 weeks. Both the in-vivo and in-vitro effects of DIM on Treg/Th17 imbalance during NASH progression were analyzed. The in-vivo blocking of CD25 or IL-17 was performed to respectively deplete respective function of Treg or Th17 subset. Besides, with the assistance of AhR antagonist CH223191 and anti-TLR4 neutralizing antibody, we designed the in-vitro DIM-incubation experiments to discuss the roles of aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) (CYP1A1, CYP1B1) and toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) on DIM's effects when shifting Treg/Th17 imbalance. Notably, in NASH mouse models, DIM alleviated hepatic steatosis and inflammation, and shifted the Treg/Th17 imbalance from MCD diet-induced Th17 dominance to Treg dominance. In-vitro, DIM not only significantly up-regulated the mRNAs of Foxp3 (Treg-specific) in purified spleen CD4(+) T cells, but also enhanced the immunosuppressive function of these Treg cells. Besides, DIM significantly up-regulated the proteins of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 whereas down-regulated those of TLR4 on CD4(+) T cells from MCD-diet mice. Moreover, blocking AhR attenuated while blocking TLR4 enhanced the effects of DIM when regulating Treg/Th17 imbalance. Conclusively, DIM could be used as a potential therapeutic candidate to treat NASH based on its dramatic induction of Treg dominance to alleviate intra-hepatic inflammation, suggesting us a clue that the dietary cruciferous vegetables (containing abundant DIM) might exist as a protective factor for patients with NASH-related liver diseases.


3, 3′-diindolylmethane; Aryl hydrocarbon receptor; Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; Regulatory T cells; Th17 cells; Toll like receptor 4

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