Induction of estradiol metabolism by dietary indole-3-carbinol in humans

J Natl Cancer Inst. 1990 Jun 6;82(11):947-9. doi: 10.1093/jnci/82.11.947.


Dietary indoles in cruciferous vegetables induce cytochrome P450 enzymes and have prevented tumors in various animal models. Because estradiol metabolism is also cytochrome P450 mediated and linked to breast cancer risk, indoles may similarly reduce estrogen-responsive tumors in humans. We examined several indoles in female Sprague-Dawley rats for induction of hepatic estradiol 2-hydroxylation. The most potent inducer, indole-3-carbinol, was administered to humans (500 mg daily for 1 wk). It significantly increased the extent (mean +/- SEM) of estradiol 2-hydroxylation from 29.3% +/- 2.1% to 45.6% +/- 2.1% (P less than .001). These results indicate that indole-3-carbinol strongly influences estradiol metabolism in humans and may provide a new chemopreventive approach to estrogen-dependent diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carboxylic Acids
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / physiology*
  • Diet
  • Estradiol / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxylation
  • Indoles / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains


  • Carboxylic Acids
  • Indoles
  • indole-2-carboxylic acid
  • Estradiol
  • tryptophol
  • indole-3-carboxylic acid
  • indole-3-carbaldehyde
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • indole-3-acetonitrile
  • indole-3-carbinol