Research Highlights: Broccoli Contains Compound That Can Kill Yeast


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Broccoli Contains Compound That Can Kill Yeast

  • Broccoli is a common edible green plant in the family Brassicaceae with all of the parts eaten as vegetable.[1]
  • A compound called 3,3’-diindolylmethane or DIM can be obtained from the digestion of indole-3-carbinol, found in broccoli.
  • DIM promotes cell death and autophagy in some human cancer.
  • Autophagy refers to the natural process of cell degradation by which unnecessary or non-functional cellular components are removed or recycled.
  • DIM extends lifespan in the yeast called Schizosaccharomyces pombe.
  • S. pombe, often called fission yeast, is a species of yeast used in traditional brewing.[3]
  • However, the way by which DIM promotes cell destruction in humans and extends lifespan in S. pombe are not very well understood.
  • Researchers show that DIM promotes cell destruction in log-phase cells which is dose-dependent.
  • .Log-phase is the period by which cells exponentially increase in number.
  • Researchers discovered that when high concentration of DIM was added, the cell’s nuclear envelope was disrupted and the chromosome tightly packed at an early stage.
  • On the other hand, when low concentration of DIM was added, cells were degraded but did not cause disruption on the nuclear envelope.
  • Cells defective in autophagy were more vulnerable to the low concentration of DIM which suggest the autophagic pathway contributes to the cell’s survival against DIM.
  • Additionally, researchers discovered that the cells with lem2 mutation are more sensitive to DIM.
  • Lem2 is a protein that regulates the size of the cell’s nuclear envelope.[2]
  • The nuclear envelope of cells with lem2 mutation was disrupted even at low DIM concentration.
  • The results highlight the importance of autophagic pathway and nuclear envelope integrity in maintaining cell viability during exposure to low DIM concentration.
  • Researchers speculated that the process of cell death and autophagy induce by DIM are conserved in humans and S. pombe.
  • Future studies are needed to understand more about the DIM being able to induce cell death and autophagy in humans and S. pombe.


Emami P, Ueno M (2021) 3,3’-Diindolylmethane induces apoptosis and autophagy in fission yeast. PLoS ONE 16(12): e0255758.





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