1,1-Bis(3′-indolyl)-1-(p-substituted phenyl)methanes inhibit proliferation of estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer cells by activation of multiple pathways

Kathy Vanderlaag, Yunpeng Su, Arthur E. Frankel, Henry Grage, Roger Smith, Shaheen Khan, Stephen Safe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


1,1-Bis(3′-indolyl)-1-(p-substituted phenyl)methanes containing para-trifluoromethyl (DIM-C-pPhCF3), t-butyl (DIM-C-pPhtBu), and phenyl (DIM-C-pPhC6H5) groups are methylene-substituted diindolylmetyhanes (C-DIMs) that activate peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) in estrogen receptor α-negative MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-453 breast cancer cells. C-DIMs inhibit breast cancer cell proliferation; however, inhibition of G0/G1 to S phase progression and cyclin D1 downregulation was observed in MDA-MB-231 but not MDA-MB-453 cells. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug-activated gene 1 (NAG-1), a transforming growth factor β-like peptide, was also induced by these compounds, and the response was dependent on cell-context dependent activation of kinase pathways. However, inhibition of cell growth, induction of NAG-1 and activation of kinases by C-DIMs were not inhibited by PPARγ antagonists. Despite the induction of NAG-1 and downregulation of the antiapoptotic protein survivin by C-DIMs in both MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-453 cells, apoptotic cell death was not observed. Nevertheless, the cytotoxicity of C-DIMs in vitro was complemented by inhibition of tumor growth in athymic nude mice bearing MDA-MB-231 cells as xenografts and treated with DIM-C-pPhC6H 5 (40 mg/kg/day). The growth inhibition of tumors derived from highly aggressive MDA-MB-231 cells suggests a potential role for the C-DIM compounds in the clinical treatment of ER-negative breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-283
Number of pages11
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2008



  • Breast cancer
  • C-DIMs
  • ER negative
  • Growth inhibition
  • PPARγ

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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