The metabolism of benzyl isothiocyanate and its cysteine conjugate

Biochem J. 1977 Jan 15;162(1):99-107. doi: 10.1042/bj1620099.


1. The corresponding cysteine conjugate was formed when the GSH (reduced glutathione) or cysteinylglycine conjugates of benzyl isothiocyanate were incubated with rat liver or kidney homogenates. When the cysteine conjugate of benzyl isothiocyanate was similarly incubated in the presence of acetyl-CoA, the corresponding N-acetylcysteine conjugate (mercapturic acid) was formed. 2. The non-enzymic reaction of GSH with benzyl isothiocyanate was rapid and was catalysed by rat liver cytosol. 3. The mercapturic acid was excreted in the urine of rats dosed with benzyl isothiocyanate or its GSH, cysteinyl-glycine or cysteine conjugate, and was isolated as the dicyclohexylamine salt. 4. An oral dose of the cysteine conjugate of [14C]benzyl isothiocyanate was rapidly absorbed and excreted by rats and dogs. After 3 days, rats had excreted a mean of 92.4 and 5.6% of the dose in the urine and faeces respectively, and dogs had excreted a mean of 86.3 and 13.2% respectively. 5. After an oral dose of the cystein conjugate of [C]benzyl isothiocyanate, the major 14C-labelled metabolite in rat urine was the corresponding mercapturic acid (62% of the dose), whereas in dog urine it was hippuric acid (40% of the dose). 5. Mercapturic acid biosynthesis may be an important route of metabolism of certain isothiocyanates in some mammalian species.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcysteine / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Benzyl Compounds / metabolism*
  • Cysteine / metabolism
  • Dogs
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Thiocyanates / metabolism*


  • Benzyl Compounds
  • Thiocyanates
  • Glutathione
  • Cysteine
  • Acetylcysteine