Indole-3-carbinol as a scavenger of free radicals

Biochem Mol Biol Int. 1996 Aug;39(6):1125-34. doi: 10.1080/15216549600201302.


The ability of indole-3-carbinol (indole-3-methanol) to trap a metastable synthetic-free radical is presented. Indole-3-carbinol is capable of acting as a scavenger of free radicals in an in vitro system. The presence of indole-3-carbinol determines the disappearance of the free radicals, the reaction being time- and concentration-dependent. The scavenging activity of different indoles is compared. Indole-3-carbinol and indole-3-acetic acid are both able to scavenge free radicals, but indole-3-carbinol is more effective. Other indoles such as indole-3-aldehyde and indole-3-carboxylic acid do not show the ability to trap free radicals. Indole-3-aldehyde appears as a product of indole-3-carbinol reaction with free radicals. The formation of an adduct between the free radical generated in vitro and indole-3-carbinol has also been detected. Stability of indole-3-carbinol in buffered media at different pH values and formation of 3,3'-diindolylmethane from indole-3-carbinol is also studied. The scavenging activity of indole-3-carbinol and its implications on the anti-carcinogenesis process is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / chemistry*
  • Benzothiazoles
  • Free Radical Scavengers / chemistry*
  • Free Radicals
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Indoleacetic Acids / chemistry
  • Indoles / chemistry*
  • Sulfonic Acids


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Benzothiazoles
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Free Radicals
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Indoleacetic Acids
  • Indoles
  • Sulfonic Acids
  • 2,2'-azino-di-(3-ethylbenzothiazoline)-6-sulfonic acid
  • indoleacetic acid
  • indole-3-carbinol