Emerging evidence provide credible support in favor of the potential role of bioactive products derived from ingesting cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage. Among many compounds, 3,3'-diindolylmethane (DIM) is generated in the acidic environment of the stomach following dimerization of indole-3-carbinol (I3C) monomers present in these classes of vegetables. Both I3C and DIM have been investigated for their use in preventing, inhibiting, and reversing the progression of cancer - as a chemopreventive agent. In this review, we summarize an updated, wide-ranging pleiotropic anti-tumor and biological effects elicited by DIM against tumor cells. It is unfeasible to point one single target as basis of cellular target of action of DIM. We emphasize key cellular and molecular events that are effectively modulated in the direction of inducing apoptosis and suppressing cell proliferation. Collectively, DIM orchestrates signaling through Ah receptor, NF-κB/Wnt/Akt/mTOR pathways impinging on cell cycle arrest, modulation of key cytochrome P450 enzymes, altering angiogenesis, invasion, metastasis and epigenetic behavior of cancer cells. The ability of DIM to selectively induce tumor cells to undergo apoptosis has been observed in preclinical models, and thus it has been speculated in improving the therapeutic efficacy of other anticancer agents that have diverse molecular targets. Consequently, DIM has moved through preclinical development into Phase I clinical trials, thereby suggesting that DIM could be a promising and novel agent either alone or as an adjunct to conventional therapeutics such as chemo-radio and targeted therapies. An important development has been the availability of DIM formulation with superior bioavailability for humans. Therefore, DIM appears to be a promising chemopreventive agent or chemo-radio-sensitizer for the prevention of tumor recurrence and/or for the treatment of human malignancies.
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