The objective of the study was to investigate the (anti)estrogenic, (anti)androgenic and aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) agonistic activities of a mixture of acid condensation products of indole-3-carbinol, termed RXM, and to identify the compounds most responsible for the observed effects, using in vitro receptor-reporter gene transcriptional activation bioassays. For this, HPLC-fractions of RXM were prepared and tested. LC-MS/MS analysis was carried out for the identification of some of the acid condensation products. The RXM displayed weak estrogenic and anti-androgenic, and strong AhR agonistic properties. The fraction containing 3,3-diindolylmethane (DIM) displayed a weak estrogenic and relatively strong anti-androgenic activity. DIM was confirmed to be an androgen receptor (hAR) antagonist and a partial estrogen receptor (hERα) agonist. Also the fraction containing the trimer [2-(indol-3-ylmethyl)indol-3-yl]indol-3-ylmethane (LTr1) showed anti-androgenic activities. It was shown for the first time that DIM is not only estrogenic and anti-androgenic, but also possesses anti-estrogenic properties. Though indolo[3,2-b]carbazole (ICZ) is a potent AhR activator and was detected in the RXM, it did not contribute to AhR-agonist activity. Instead, fractions containing the trimers LTr1 and 5,6,11,12,17,18-hexahydrocyclonona[1,2-b:4,5-b′:7,8-b″]tri-indole (CTr), as well as some unidentified compounds showed the highest AhR activation. The fraction, containing the linear trimer LTr1, showed a weak anti-androgenic activity which has not been reported before. The study demonstrates the importance of a bioassay directed approach for identifying compounds that contribute most to the effects of mixtures.
- Acid condensation products of I3C
- Androgen receptor
- Aryl hydrocarbon receptor
- Estrogen receptor
- In vitro bioassay