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Cruciferous Vegetables

April 2013

By Atherosclerosis

Mechanisms of action of isothiocyanates in cancer chemoprevention: an update.

Isothiocyanates (ITC), derived from glucosinolates, are thought to be responsible for the chemoprotective actions conferred by higher cruciferous vegetable intake. Evidence suggests that isothiocyanates exert their effects through a variety of distinct but interconnected signaling pathways important for inhibiting carcinogenesis, including those involved in detoxification, inflammation, apoptosis, and cell cycle and epigenetic regulation, among others. This article provides an update on the latest research on isothiocyanates and these mechanisms, and points out remaining gaps in our understanding of these events. Given the variety of ITC produced from glucosinolates, and the diverse pathways on which these compounds act, a systems biology approach, in vivo, may help to better characterize their integrated role in cancer prevention. In addition, the effects of dose, duration of exposure, and specificity of different ITC should be considered.

Food Funct. 2011 Oct;2(10):579-87

Epigenetic and antioxidant effects of dietary isothiocyanates and selenium: potential implications for cancer chemoprevention.

There is evidence from epidemiological studies suggesting that increased consumption of cruciferous vegetables may protect against specific cancers more effectively than total fruit and vegetable intake. These beneficial effects are attributed to the glucosinolate breakdown products, isothiocyanates (ITC). Similarly, selenium (Se) consumption has also been inversely associated with cancer risk and as an integral part of many selenoproteins may influence multiple pathways in the development of cancer. This paper will briefly review the current state of knowledge concerning the effect of Se and ITC in cancer development with a particular emphasis on its antioxidant properties, and will also address whether alterations in DNA methylation may be a potential mechanism whereby these dietary constituents protect against the carcinogenic process. Furthermore, we will discuss the advantages of combining ITC and Se to benefit from their complementary mechanisms of action to potentially protect against the alterations leading to neoplasia. Based on this review it may be concluded that an understanding of the impact of ITC and Se on aberrant DNA methylation in relation to factors modulating gene-specific and global methylation patterns, in addition to the effect of these food constituents as modulators of key selenoenzymes, such as gastrointestinal glutathione peroxidase-2 (GPx2) and thioredoxin reductase-1 (TrxR1), may provide insights into the potential synergy among various components of a plant-based diet that may counteract the genetic and epigenetic alterations that initiate and sustain neoplasia.

Proc Nutr Soc. 2012 May;71(2):237-45

Effects of 5,6-benzoflavone, indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and diindolylmethane (DIM) on chemically-induced mammary carcinogenesis: is DIM a substitute for I3C?

The abilities of 5,6-benzoflavone (5,6-BF, a synthetic flavonoid), indole-3-carbinol (I3C, a plant derived product) or diindolylmethane (DIM, a condensation product of I3C) to alter the induction of mammary cancers induced by the carcinogens 7,12-dimethylbenzanthracene (DMBA) or N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (MNU) were evaluated. Interestingly, the first two agents act as aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) agonists, while DIM does not. The agents were initially examined for their ability to inhibit DMBA-induced mammary carcinogenesis. Agents were administered for 14 days starting 7 days prior to a single dose of the carcinogen. Evaluated over an extensive range of doses (165,550 and 1,650 ppm in the diet), 5,6-BF caused a dose-dependent decrease of mammary cancers. In addition, 5,6-BF at doses of 1,650 and 165 ppm in the diet blocked the induction of DMBA-induced DNA adducts in the mammary gland by approximately 85% and 45%, respectively. In contrast, DIM (180 or 20 mg/kg BW/day) failed to block induction of DMBA tumors. The effect of these agents on the promotion/progression phase of carcinogenesis using the MNU mammary cancer model was also determined. 5,6-BF (1650 or 165 ppm in the diet), I3C (180 or 60 mg/kg BW/day administered by gavage), or DIM (180 or 60 mg/kg BW/day by gavage) were initiated 5 days after the administration of MNU, and continually thereafter. 5,6-BF decreased MNU- induced mammary tumor multiplicity by 40-60%. I3C reduced tumor multiplicity at the high dose, while DIM at either dose had minimal effects on tumor multiplicity. Thus, 5,6-BF and I3C were highly effective against initiation of DMBA-induced mammary carcinogenesis, and were also effective against MNU-induced tumors during the promotion/progression phase of carcinogenesis. In contrast, DIM had minimal effects in either model; arguing that administration of DIM is not analogous to administration of I3C.

Oncol Rep. 2011 Sep;26(3):731-6

3,3’-diindolylmethane modulates estrogen metabolism in patients with thyroid proliferative disease: a pilot study.

BACKGROUND: The incidence of thyroid cancer is four to five times higher in women than in men, suggesting a role for estrogen (E₂) in the pathogenesis of thyroid proliferative disease (TPD) that comprises cancer and goiter. The objective of this study was to investigate the antiestrogenic activity of 3,3’-diindolylmethane (DIM), a bioactive compound derived from cruciferous vegetables, in patients with TPD. METHODS: In this limited phase I clinical trial study, patients found to have TPD were administered 300 mg of DIM per day for 14 days. Patients subsequently underwent a total or partial thyroidectomy, and tissue, urine, and serum samples were collected. Pre- and post-DIM serum and urine samples were analyzed for DIM levels as well as estrogen metabolites. DIM levels were also determined in thyroid tissue samples. RESULTS: DIM was detectable in thyroid tissue, serum, and urine of patients after 14 days of supplementation. Urine analyses revealed that DIM modulated estrogen metabolism in patients with TPD. There was an increase in the ratio of 2-hydroxyestrones (C-2) to 16α-hydroxyestrone (C-16), consistent with antiestrogenic activity that results in more of C-2 product compared with C-16. CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that DIM enhances estrogen metabolism in TPD patients and can potentially serve as an antiestrogenic dietary supplement to help reduce the risk of developing TPD. The fact that DIM is detected in thyroid tissue implicates that it can manifest its antiestrogenic activity in situ to modulate TPD.

Thyroid. 2011 Mar;21(3):299-304

Activation of AMP-activated protein kinase by 3,3’-Diindolylmethane (DIM) is associated with human prostate cancer cell death in vitro and in vivo.

There is a large body of scientific evidence suggesting that 3,3’-Diindolylmethane (DIM), a compound derived from the digestion of indole-3-carbinol, which is abundant in cruciferous vegetables, harbors anti-tumor activity in vitro and in vivo. Accumulating evidence suggests that AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) plays an essential role in cellular energy homeostasis and tumor development and that targeting AMPK may be a promising therapeutic option for cancer treatment in the clinic. We previously reported that a formulated DIM (BR-DIM; hereafter referred as B-DIM) with higher bioavailability was able to induce apoptosis and inhibit cell growth, angiogenesis, and invasion of prostate cancer cells. However, the precise molecular mechanism(s) for the anti-cancer effects of B-DIM have not been fully elucidated. In the present study, we investigated whether AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a molecular target of B-DIM in human prostate cancer cells. Our results showed, for the first time, that B-DIM could activate the AMPK signaling pathway, associated with suppression of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), down-regulation of androgen receptor (AR) expression, and induction of apoptosis in both androgen-sensitive LNCaP and androgen-insensitive C4-2B prostate cancer cells. B-DIM also activates AMPK and down-regulates AR in androgen-independent C4-2B prostate tumor xenografts in SCID mice. These results suggest that B-DIM could be used as a potential anti-cancer agent in the clinic for prevention and/or treatment of prostate cancer regardless of androgen responsiveness, although functional AR may be required.

PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e47186

Results from a dose-response study using 3,3’-diindolylmethane in the K14-HPV16 transgenic mouse model: cervical histology.

The human papilloma virus is the major cause of cervical cancer. Viral infection initiates cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, which progresses through several stages to cervical cancer. The objective of this study is to identify the minimum effective dose of diindolylmethane that prevents the progression from cervical dysplasia to carcinoma in situ. We document cervical histology in K14-HPV16 mice receiving different doses of diindolylmethane. Urinary diindolylmethane concentrations are reported. Diindolylmethane could enhance the efficacy of human papilloma virus vaccines, creating a new therapeutic use for these vaccines in women already infected with the virus. Five doses (0-2,500 ppm) of diindolylmethane were incorporated into each mouse diet. The reproductive tract was serially sectioned and urine was obtained for analysis of urinary diindolylmethane. The results indicate that 62% of mice receiving 1,000 ppm diindolylmethane remained dysplasia-free after 20 weeks compared with 16% of mice receiving no diindolylmethane and 18% receiving 500 ppm; 1,000 ppm of 3,3’-diindolylmethane in the diet completely suppressed the development of cervical cancer. Urinary diindolylmethane levels increased significantly as diindolylmethane in food increased. These findings imply usefulness for diindolylmethane in the search to prevent cervical cancer when used in combination with prophylactic or therapeutic vaccines.

Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011 Jun;4(6):890-6

Selective activation of estrogen receptor-beta target genes by 3,3’-diindolylmethane.

3,3’-Diindolylmethane (DIM) is a natural compound found in cruciferous vegetables that has antiproliferative and estrogenic activity. However, it is not clear whether the estrogenic effects are mediated through estrogen receptor (ER)alpha, ERbeta, or both ER subtypes. We investigated whether DIM has ER subtype selectivity on gene transcription. DIM stimulated ERbeta but not ERalpha activation of an estrogen response element upstream of the luciferase reporter gene. DIM also selectively activated multiple endogenous genes through ERbeta. DIM did not bind to ERbeta, indicating that it activates genes by a ligand-independent mechanism. DIM causes ERbeta to bind regulatory elements and recruit the steroid receptor coactivator (SRC)-2 coactivator, which leads to the activation of ER target genes. Silencing of SRC-2 inhibited the activation of ER target genes, demonstrating that SRC-2 is required for transcriptional activation by DIM. Our results demonstrate that DIM is a new class of ERbeta-selective compounds, because it does not bind to ERbeta, but instead it selectively recruits ERbeta and coactivators to target genes.

Endocrinology. 2010 Apr;151(4):1662-7

Indole-3-carbinol disrupts estrogen receptor-alpha dependent expression of insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor and insulin receptor substrate-1 and proliferation of human breast cancer cells.

We previously established that Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C), a natural hydrolysis product of glucobrassicin in cruciferous vegetables, arrests the proliferation of estrogen-dependent human breast cancer cells and induces protein degradation of Estrogen Receptor-alpha (ERα). We demonstrate in human MCF-7 breast cancer cells that I3C ablates expression of Insulin-like Growth Factor Receptor-1 (IGF1R) and Insulin Receptor Substrate-1 (IRS1), downstream effectors of the IGF1 signaling pathway. Exogenous ERα reversed the I3C mediated loss of IGF1R and IRS1 gene expression demonstrating that down-regulation of ERα is functionally linked to I3C control of IGF1R and IRS1 expression. I3C disrupted binding of endogenous ERα, but not Sp1, to ERE-Sp1 composite elements within the IGF1R/IRS1 promoters. Exogenous ERα abrogated, and combined expression of IGF1R and IRS1 attenuated, the I3C mediated cell cycle arrest. Therefore, I3C inhibits proliferation of estrogen-sensitive breast cancer cells through disruption of ERα-mediated transcription of cell signaling components within the IGF1 cascade.

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2012 Nov 5;363(1-2):74-84

Apigenin induces apoptosis and blocks growth of medroxyprogesterone acetate-dependent BT-474 xenograft tumors.

Recent clinical and epidemiological evidence shows that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) containing both estrogen and progestin increases the risk of primary and metastatic breast cancer in post-menopausal women while HRT containing only estrogen does not. We and others previously showed that progestins promote the growth of human breast cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. In this study, we sought to determine whether apigenin, a low molecular weight anti-carcinogenic flavonoid, inhibits the growth of aggressive Her2/neu-positive BT-474 xenograft tumors in nude mice exposed to medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), the most commonly used progestin in the USA. Our data clearly show that apigenin (50 mg/kg) inhibits progression and development of these xenograft tumors by inducing apoptosis, inhibiting cell proliferation, and reducing expression of Her2/neu. Moreover, apigenin reduced levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) without altering blood vessel density, indicating that continued expression of VEGF may be required to promote tumor cell survival and maintain blood flow. While previous studies showed that MPA induces receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand (RANKL) expression in rodent mammary gland, MPA reduced levels of RANKL in human tumor xenografts. RANKL levels remained suppressed in the presence of apigenin. Exposure of BT-474 cells to MPA in vitro also resulted in lower levels of RANKL; an effect that was independent of progesterone receptors since it occurred both in the presence and absence of the antiprogestin RU-486. In contrast to our in vivo observations, apigenin protected against MPA-dependent RANKL loss in vitro, suggesting that MPA and apigenin modulate RANKL levels differently in breast cancer cells in vivo and in vitro. These preclinical findings suggest that apigenin has potential as an agent for the treatment of progestin-dependent breast disease.

Horm Cancer. 2012 Aug;3(4):160-71

Uncaria tomentosa-Adjuvant Treatment for Breast Cancer: Clinical Trial.

Breast cancer is the most frequent neoplasm affecting women worldwide. Some of the recommended treatments involve chemotherapy whose toxic effects include leukopenia and neutropenia. This study assessed the effectiveness of Uncaria tomentosa (Ut) in reducing the adverse effects of chemotherapy through a randomized clinical trial. Patients with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma-Stage II, who underwent a treatment regimen known as FAC (Fluorouracil, Doxorubicin, Cyclophosphamide), were divided into two groups: the UtCa received chemotherapy plus 300 mg dry Ut extract per day and the Ca group that only received chemotherapy and served as the control experiment. Blood samples were collected before each one of the six chemotherapy cycles and blood counts, immunological parameters, antioxidant enzymes, and oxidative stress were analyzed. Uncaria tomentosa reduced the neutropenia caused by chemotherapy and was also able to restore cellular DNA damage. We concluded that Ut is an effective adjuvant treatment for breast cancer.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:676984