Induction of phase II detoxification enzymes in rats by plant-derived isothiocyanates: comparison of allyl isothiocyanate with sulforaphane and related compounds

J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Apr 7;52(7):1867-71. doi: 10.1021/jf030549s.


Plants of the family Brassicaceae contain high levels of glucosinolates. The latter compounds are degraded to isothiocyanates, some of which have been shown to be potent inducers of phase II detoxification enzymes in vitro. In the present study, the ability of six plant-derived isothiocyanates (allyl isothiocyanate, iberverin, erucin, sulforaphane, iberin, and cheirolin) to increase tissue levels of the phase II detoxification enzymes quinone reductase (QR) and glutathione S-transferase (GST) in a variety of rat tissues has been compared. At the low dose level employed (40 micromol/kg/day), cheirolin was without effect in any tissue. All of the other isothiocyanates, however, increased GST and QR activities in the duodenum, forestomach, and/or the urinary bladder of the animals, with the greatest effects being seen in the urinary bladder. With the exception of cheirolin, little difference was observed in the inductive activity of the various isothiocyanates. Phase II enzymes are known to protect against chemical carcinogenesis, and the selectivity of isothiocyanates in inducing such enzymes in the bladder is of interest in view of recent epidemiological studies showing a decreased incidence of cancer of this organ in individuals with a high dietary intake of Brassica vegetables.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brassicaceae / chemistry*
  • Enzyme Induction / drug effects
  • Female
  • Glutathione Transferase / biosynthesis*
  • Isothiocyanates / pharmacology*
  • NAD(P)H Dehydrogenase (Quinone) / biosynthesis*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sulfides / pharmacology*
  • Sulfones / pharmacology*
  • Sulfoxides
  • Thiocyanates / pharmacology*
  • Urinary Bladder / enzymology


  • Isothiocyanates
  • Sulfides
  • Sulfones
  • Sulfoxides
  • Thiocyanates
  • cheirolin
  • allyl isothiocyanate
  • NAD(P)H Dehydrogenase (Quinone)
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • sulforaphane
  • iberverin