Effects of indole-3-carbinol on immune responses, aberrant crypt foci, and colonic crypt cell proliferation in rats

J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2001 Apr 6;62(7):561-73. doi: 10.1080/152873901300007842.


Male Sprague-Dawley rats were treated orally with indole-3-carbinol (13C) for 7 wk at levels of 150, 100, and 50 mg/kg body weight. The rats were injected with 10 mg/kg body weight of the colon carcinogen, azoxymethane (AOM) on d 2 and 9 of 13C treatment. At termination of the study, all rats were assessed for immune function (humoral immunity, specific cell-mediated immunity, and nonspecific cell-mediated immunity). Colonic tissue was collected and examined for the presence of aberrant crypt foci (ACF) and proliferation of crypt cells. Antibody responses to antigen challenge were significantly suppressed in the animals exposed to the high dose of 13C. Delayed-type hypersensitivity responses, natural killer cell activity, the number and multiplicity of ACF, and cell proliferation parameters were not significantly different from those of the controls. Therefore, there was no clear protective or enhancing effect of 13C on ACF numbers or colonic cell proliferation indices. There was no strong correlation between changes in immune responses and the preneoplastic biomarkers of colon cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Azoxymethane / toxicity
  • Biomarkers
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Carcinogens / toxicity
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Colonic Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Hypersensitivity, Delayed / immunology
  • Immunity / drug effects*
  • Immunoglobulin G / biosynthesis
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Indoles / pharmacology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / drug effects
  • Male
  • Precancerous Conditions / chemically induced
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology*
  • Precancerous Conditions / prevention & control
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Spleen / drug effects
  • Spleen / immunology


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Biomarkers
  • Carcinogens
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Indoles
  • indole-3-carbinol
  • Azoxymethane