3,3'-Diindolylmethane stimulates murine immune function in vitro and in vivo

J Nutr Biochem. 2008 May;19(5):336-44. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2007.05.004. Epub 2007 Aug 17.


3,3'-Diindolylmethane (DIM), a major condensation product of indole-3-carbinol, exhibits chemopreventive properties in animal models of cancer. Recent studies have shown that DIM stimulates interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) production and potentiates the IFN-gamma signaling pathway in human breast cancer cells via a mechanism that includes increased expression of the IFN-gamma receptor. The goal of this study was to test the hypothesis that DIM modulates the murine immune function. Specifically, the effects of DIM were evaluated in a panel of murine immune function tests that included splenocyte proliferation, reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, cytokine production and resistance to viral infection. DIM was found to induce proliferation of splenocytes as well as augment mitogen- and interleukin (IL)-2-induced splenocyte proliferation. DIM also stimulated the production of ROS by murine peritoneal macrophage cultures. Oral administration of DIM, but not intraperitoneal injection, induced elevation of serum cytokines in mice, including IL-6, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), IL-12 and IFN-gamma. Finally, in a model of enteric virus infection, oral DIM administration to mice enhanced both clearance of reovirus from the GI tract and the subsequent mucosal IgA response. Thus, DIM is a potent stimulator of immune function. This property might contribute to the cancer inhibitory effects of this indole.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / analysis
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Immunity / drug effects*
  • Immunoglobulin A / drug effects
  • Immunoglobulin A / immunology
  • Indoles / pharmacology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / cytology
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / drug effects
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / immunology
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Orthoreovirus, Mammalian / drug effects
  • Orthoreovirus, Mammalian / immunology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Reoviridae Infections / immunology
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Spleen / immunology


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Indoles
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • 3,3'-diindolylmethane