In vitro antiproliferative activity of isothiocyanates and nitriles generated by myrosinase-mediated hydrolysis of glucosinolates from seeds of cruciferous vegetables

J Agric Food Chem. 2000 Aug;48(8):3572-5. doi: 10.1021/jf000191p.


A comparison of the effect of isothiocyanates and nitriles derived from some glucosinolates, namely, epi-progoitrin, sinalbin, glucotropaeolin, glucocheirolin, and glucoraphenin, on human erythroleukemic in vitro cultured cells was studied. Many studies have in fact evidenced that a consumption of vegetable containing glucosinolates could reduce the development of colorectal cancer. In the experimental conditions used, the production of isothiocyanates and nitriles from glucosinolates is almost quantitative as confirmed by HPLC or GC-MS analysis. The obtained results demonstrated that in general nitriles are considerably less potent than the corresponding isothiocyanates in inhibiting cancer cell growth. Particularly, the isothiocyanates inhibitory activity on K562 cells growth is higher in the case of products derived from epi-progoitrin, glucotropaeolin, glucoraphenin, and glucocheirolin; while for nitriles the higher activity in inhibiting K562 cells growth is showed by sinalbin-derived product. Considering the antiproliferative activity found for isothiocyanates and nitriles, further studies will be aimed to the possible application of glucosinolate-derived products as chemopreventive cancer agents for the reduction of colorectal cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brassicaceae / chemistry*
  • Cell Division / drug effects*
  • Glucosinolates / metabolism*
  • Glycoside Hydrolases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrolysis
  • Isothiocyanates / pharmacology*
  • Nitriles / pharmacology*
  • Seeds / chemistry
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Glucosinolates
  • Isothiocyanates
  • Nitriles
  • Glycoside Hydrolases
  • thioglucosidase