Indolo[3,2-b]carbazole inhibits gap junctional intercellular communication in rat primary hepatocytes and acts as a potential tumor promoter

Susan Herrmann, Michel Seidelin, Hanne Cathrine Bisgaard, Ole Vang

    Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


    Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) is a naturally occurring substance that shows anti-carcinogenic properties in animal models. Besides its clear anti-carcinogenic effects, some studies indicate that I3C may sometimes act as a tumor promoter. Indolo[3,2-b]carbazole (ICZ), which is formed in the acidic environment of the stomach after intake of I3C, has a similar structure to, and shares biological effects with, the well-known tumor promoter 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-pdioxin (TCDD). Therefore, we hypothesized that ICZ could be responsible for the potential tumor-promoting activity of I3C. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of ICZ on gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC) in primary cultured rat hepatocytes co-cultured with the rat liver epithelial cell line WB-F344. Indolo[3,2-b]carbazole inhibited GJIC in the rat hepatocytes in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Significant inhibition was observed after 8 and 12 h of treatment with 1 and 0.1 µM ICZ, respectively. Maximum GJIC inhibition (cell–cell communication only 5% of control values) was observed after 24–48 h of ICZ treatment. Continued exposure to 1 µM ICZ suppressed GJIC until ~120 h. Both ICZ and TCDD treatment reduced the Cx32 mRNA level as well as the plasma membrane Cx32 staining. Indolo[3,2-b]carbazole increased the Cyp1a1, Cyp1a2 and Cyp1b1 mRNA levels concurrently with an increase in 7-ethoxyresorufin O-deethylase (EROD) activities. Maximum EROD activity and Cyp1a1 mRNA levels were observed after ~12 h, whereas Cyp1a2 and Cyp1b1 mRNA levels peaked after 48 h. This study shows that ICZ may possess tumor promoter activity down-regulating GJIC by mechanisms, which seem to include activation of the Ah receptor and/or Cyp1 activity. Further studies are needed in order to clarify the anticarcinogenic/carcinogenic effects of I3C and ICZ before high doses of I3C may be recommended as a dietary supplement.
    Udgave nummer11
    Sider (fra-til)1861-1868
    StatusUdgivet - 2002


    • Indole-3-carbinol
    • Indolo[3,2-b]carbazole
    • tumor promoting
    • gap junction intercellulær kommunikation
    • cytochrome P-450

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