A selective aryl hydrocarbon receptor modulator 3,3'-Diindolylmethane inhibits gastric cancer cell growth

J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2012 May 16;31(1):46. doi: 10.1186/1756-9966-31-46.


Background: Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is a ligand-activated transcription factor associated with gastric carcinogenesis. 3,3'-Diindolylmethane (DIM) is a relatively non-toxic selective AhR modulator. This study was to detect the effects of DIM on gastric cancer cell growth.

Methods: Gastric cancer cell SGC7901 was treated with DIM at different concentrations (0,10,20,30,40,50 μmol/L) with or without an AhR antagonist, resveratrol. The expression of AhR and Cytochrome P4501A1 (CYP1A1), a classic target gene of AhR pathway, were detected by RT-PCR and Western blot; cell viability was measured by MTT assay, and the changes in cell cycle and apoptosis were analyzed by flow cytometry.

Results: RT-PCR and western-blot showed that with the increase of the concentration of DIM, AhR protein gradually decreased and CYP1A1 expression increased, suggesting that DIM activated the AhR pathway and caused the translocation of AhR from cytoplasm to nucleus. MTT assay indicated that the viability of SGC7901 cells was significantly decreased in a concentration- and time-dependent manner after DIM treatment and this could be partially reversed by resveratrol. Flow cytometry analysis showed that DIM arrested cell cycle in G1 phase and induced cell apoptosis.

Conclusion: Selective aryl hydrocarbon receptor modulator 3,3'-Diindolylmethane inhibits SGC7901 cell proliferation by inducing apoptosis and delaying cell cycle progression. AhR may be a potential therapeutic target for gastric cancer treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Growth Processes / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1 / biosynthesis
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1 / genetics
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1 / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Interactions
  • Humans
  • Indoles / pharmacology*
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon / genetics
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon / metabolism*
  • Resveratrol
  • Stilbenes / pharmacology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / genetics
  • Stomach Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Indoles
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon
  • Stilbenes
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1
  • Resveratrol
  • 3,3'-diindolylmethane