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Logo of bmcmedicineBioMed Centralsearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBMC Medicine
BMC Med. 2012; 10: 9.
Published online 2012 January 26. doi:  10.1186/1741-7015-10-9
PMCID: PMC3298725

Diindolylmethane suppresses ovarian cancer growth and potentiates the effect of cisplatin in tumor mouse model by targeting signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3)



Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is activated in majority of ovarian tumors and confers resistance to cisplatin treatment in patients with ovarian cancer. We have reported previously that diindolylmethane (DIM) inhibits the growth of ovarian cancer cells. However, to date the exact mechanism by which DIM induces growth suppressive effects has not been clear. In this report the mode of action of DIM is investigated.


Six human ovarian cancer cell lines and an ovarian tumor xenograft animal model were used to study the effect of diindolylmethane alone or in combination with cisplatin.


Diindolylmethane treatment induced apoptosis in all six ovarian cancer cell lines. Phosphorylation of STAT3 at Tyr-705 and Ser-727 was reduced by DIM in a concentration-dependent manner. In addition, diindolylmethane treatment inhibited nuclear translocation, DNA binding, and transcriptional activity of STAT3. Interleukin (IL)-6-induced phosphorylation of STAT3 at Tyr-705 was significantly blocked by DIM. Overexpression of STAT3 by gene transfection blocked DIM-induced apoptosis. In addition, DIM treatment reduced the levels of IL-6 in ovarian cancer cells and in the tumors. DIM treatment also inhibited cell invasion and angiogenesis by suppressing hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) and vascular epithelial growth factor (VEGF). Importantly, diindolylmethane treatment potentiated the effects of cisplatin in SKOV-3 cells by targeting STAT3. Oral administration of 3 mg diindolylmethane per day and subsequent administration of cisplatin substantially inhibited in vivo tumor growth. Western blotting analysis of tumor lysates indicated increased apoptosis and reduced STAT3 activation.


These findings provide a rationale for further clinical investigation of DIM alone or in combination for chemoprevention and/or chemotherapy of ovarian cancer.

Keywords: apoptosis, angiogenesis, cisplatin, diindolylmethane, STAT3

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