Signal transduction pathways leading to cell cycle arrest and apoptosis induction in cancer cells by Allium vegetable-derived organosulfur compounds: a review

Mutat Res. 2004 Nov 2;555(1-2):121-31. doi: 10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2004.04.016.


Epidemiological studies continue to support the premise that dietary intake of Allium vegetables (e.g., garlic, onions and so forth) may lower the risk of various types of cancer. Anticarcinogenic effect of Allium vegetables is attributed to organosulfur compounds (OSCs) that are generated upon processing of these vegetables. Preclinical studies have provided convincing evidence to indicate that Allium vegetable-derived OSCs including diallyl sulfide, diallyl disulfide and diallyl trisulfide are highly effective in affording protection against cancer in laboratory animals induced by a variety of chemical carcinogens. Inhibition of carcinogen activation through modulation of cytochrome P450-dependent monooxygenases and/or acceleration of carcinogen detoxification via induction of phase II enzymes (glutathione transferases, quinone reductase, etc.) are believed to be responsible for protective effects of OSCs against chemically induced cancers. More recent studies have indicated that some naturally occurring OSC analogues can suppress proliferation of cancer cells in culture and inhibit growth of transplanted tumor xenografts in vivo by inducing apoptosis and/or by perturbing cell cycle progression. This review summarizes current knowledge on signal transduction pathways leading to perturbations in cell cycle progression and apoptosis induction by OSCs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allium*
  • Allyl Compounds / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Sulfur Compounds / therapeutic use*


  • Allyl Compounds
  • Sulfur Compounds