Epigenetic Impact of Indoles and Isothiocyanates on Cancer Prevention

  • Pushpinder KaurEmail author
  • Jaspreet Kaur
Reference work entry


Cruciferous vegetables are an excellent source of sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, and their hydrolysis products, such as indoles and isothiocyanates, exert their chemopreventive effect by altering epigenetic mechanisms. These bioactive food components have gained more widespread attention as the potential agent for cancer prevention among other phytochemicals. Many studies have demonstrated the impact of indoles and isothiocyanates in modulating the epigenome in diverse human cancers and in the fetus. This review summarizes the evidence from preclinical and clinical studies on the impact of indole and isothiocyanates on epigenetic events and how they relate to chemopreventive effects in the lung, prostate, breast, cervix, and transplacental carcinogenesis. We also discussed the remaining challenges and the research required to gather additional necessary information to identify the promising therapeutical potential of indoles and isothiocyanates in treating and preventing cancer.


Indole Isothiocyanate Diet Transplacental Cancer chemoprevention Epigenetics 

List of Abbreviations


Aryl hydrocarbon receptor




2,3-bis[3-indoylmethyl] indole


BioResponse DIM


Breast cancer 1


Cell division cycle 2


Cyclin-dependent kinase 2


Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia


Cancer testis antigens


Cyclic trimer


Cytochrome P450 1A1


Cytochrome P450 1A2




Ductal carcinoma in situ




Deoxyribonucleic acid


DNA methyltransferase 3B


DNMT inhibitors


DNA methyltransferases


Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition


Extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2


Endogenous retroviruses


Gestation day


Glutathione-S-transferase 1


Histone H3


Histone H4


Histone acetylases


Histone deacetylase


Histone deacetylase 1






Linear trimer






noncoding RNA


Nuclear factor kappa B


Nitrosamine 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone


NAD(P)H dehydrogenase [quinone] 1


Nuclear factor erythroid 2 (NF-E2)-related factor 2


Non-small cell lung cancer


Peripheral blood mononuclear cells




Phosphatase and tensin homolog


Ribonucleic acid


S-adenosyl methionine




(Sex-determining region Y)-box 4


UDP-glucuronosyl-transferase 1A1


United Kingdom


United States


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.USC Keck School of MedicineUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiotechnologyUniversity Institute of Engineering and Technology, Panjab UniversityChandigarhIndia

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