3,3′-Diindolylmethane suppresses high-fat diet-induced obesity through inhibiting adipogenesis of pre-adipocytes by targeting USP2 activity

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Indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a derivative abundant in cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, is well known for its various health benefits such as chemo-preventive and anti-obesity effects. I3C is easily metabolized to 3,3′-diindolylmethane (DIM), a more stable form, in acidic conditions of the stomach. However, the anti-obesity effect of DIM has not been investigated clearly. We sought to investigate the effect of DIM on diet-induced obesity and to elucidate its underlying mechanisms.

Methods and results

High-fat diet (HFD)-fed obese mouse and MDI-induced 3T3-L1 adipogenesis models were used to study the effect of DIM. We observed that the administration of DIM (50 mg/kg BW) significantly suppressed HFD-induced obesity, associated with a decrease in adipose tissue. Additionally, we observed that DIM treatment (40 and 60 μM), but not I3C treatment, significantly inhibited MDI-induced adipogenesis by reducing the levels of several adipogenic proteins such as PPAR-γ and C/EBPα. DIM, but not I3C, suppressed cell cycle progression in the G1 phase, which occurred in the early stage of adipogenesis, inducing post-translational degradation of cyclin D1 by inhibiting ubiquitin specific peptidase 2 (USP2) activities.


Our findings indicate that cruciferous vegetables, which can produce DIM as a metabolite, have the potential to prevent or treat chronic obesity.

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