Indole-3-carbinol: a plant hormone combatting cancer

F1000Res. 2018 Jun 1;7:F1000 Faculty Rev-689. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.14127.1. eCollection 2018.


A diet rich in cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage has long been considered healthy, and various epidemiological studies suggest that the consumption of cruciferous vegetables contributes to a cancer-protecting diet. While these vegetables contain a vast array of phytochemicals, the mechanism by which these vegetables counteract cancer is still largely unresolved. Numerous in situ studies have implicated indole-3-carbinol, a breakdown product of the glucosinolate indole-3-ylmethylglucosinolate, as one of the phytochemicals with anti-cancer properties. Indole-3-carbinol influences a range of cellular processes, but the mechanisms by which it acts on cancer cells are slowly being revealed. Recent studies on the role of indole-3-carbinol in Arabidopsis opens the door for cross-kingdom comparisons that can help in understanding the roles of this important phytohormone in both plant biology and combatting cancer.

Keywords: cancer prevention; cruciferous vegetables; glucosinolates; indole-3-carbinol.

Publication types

  • Review

Grant support

Our research into the role of I3C in Arabidopsis is funded by grants from the Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD, IS‐4505‐12R and US‐4846‐15C).