Selective cytostatic and cytotoxic effects of glucosinolates hydrolysis products on human colon cancer cells in vitro

Anticancer Drugs. 1998 Feb;9(2):141-8. doi: 10.1097/00001813-199802000-00005.


Glucosinolates hydrolysis products are attracting increasing attention since many studies have suggested that they may be involved in the anticarcinogenic property of cruciferous vegetables. In this study, we show that diindolylmethane (DIM) and sulforaphane, produced during the hydrolysis of glucobrassicin and glucoraphanin, respectively, exert a dose-dependent cytotoxicity on human colon adenocarcinoma HT29 cells. Moreover, these products are able to inhibit quiescent cells to re-enter the cell cycle. Interestingly, our results clearly show that low doses of DIM and sulforaphane, although very effective on undifferentiated intestinal HT29 cells, do not affect the viability of the differentiated CaCo2 cells. The reversibility of their effects has also been tested and is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / metabolism
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Caco-2 Cells / drug effects*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Colonic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Glucosinolates / metabolism
  • Glucosinolates / pharmacology*
  • HT29 Cells / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Hydrolysis
  • Indoles / adverse effects
  • Isothiocyanates
  • Thiocyanates / pharmacology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Glucosinolates
  • Indoles
  • Isothiocyanates
  • Thiocyanates
  • sulforaphane
  • 3,3'-diindolylmethane