Compound derived from vegetables shields rodents from lethal radiation doses

Georgetown University Medical Center researchers say a compound derived from cruciferous vegetable such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli protected rats and mice from lethal doses of radiation.

Their study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) suggests the compound, already shown to be safe for humans, may protect normal tissues during therapy for cancer treatment and prevent or mitigate sickness caused by radiation exposure.

The compound, known as DIM (3,3'-diindolylmethane), previously has been found to have cancer preventive properties.

"DIM has been studied as a cancer prevention agent for years, but this is the first indication that DIM can also act as a radiation protector," says the study's corresponding author, Eliot Rosen, MD, PhD, of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

For the study, the researchers irradiated rats with lethal doses of gamma ray radiation. The animals were then treated with a daily injection of DIM for two weeks, starting 10 minutes after the radiation exposure.

The result was stunning, says Rosen, a professor of oncology, biochemistry and cell & molecular biology, and radiation medicine. "All of the untreated rats died, but well over half of the DIM-treated animals remained alive 30 days after the radiation exposure."

Rosen adds that DIM also provided protection whether the first injection was administered 24 hours before or up to 24 hours after .

"We also showed that DIM protects the survival of lethally irradiated mice," Rosen says. In addition, irradiated mice treated with DIM had less reduction in red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets—side effects often seen in patients undergoing for cancer.

Rosen says this study points to two potential uses of the compound. "DIM could protect normal tissues in patients receiving for cancer, but could also protect individuals from the lethal consequences of a nuclear disaster."

Rosen and study co-authors Saijun Fan, PhD, and Milton Brown, MD, PhD, are co-inventors on a patent application that has been filed by Georgetown University related to the usage of DIM and DIM-related as radioprotectors.

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More information: DIM (3,3′-diindolylmethane) confers protection against ionizing radiation by a unique mechanism,
Citation: Compound derived from vegetables shields rodents from lethal radiation doses (2013, October 14) retrieved 16 October 2019 from
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Oct 14, 2013
GIve me Some.

Oct 15, 2013
A small point that might be easily misunderstood (and which is stated ambiguously in the article): The substance doesn't shield from radiation. It doesn't shield from radiation doses, either (a dose is an amount of energy delivered to a substance). It mitigates the EFFECTS that that dose has on the organism.

The dose is measured in Gray (which is just the sum over all energies deposited in the tissue by the radiation)
The biologically EFFECTIVE dose is measured in Sievert and is basically the dose multiplied by certain factors which can vary according to organ, radiation type/energy and exposure type (internal/external). This is done so as to make the results comparable as a certain amount of Sieverts means a certain increased chance of developing cancer, while e.g. a certain amount of Gray to the knee mean something entirely different, survival-wise, as that amount to the head.

So this substance lowers the Sievert count (effective dose) - but not the Gray count (dose).

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