S-allylcysteine modulates the expression of E-cadherin and inhibits the malignant progression of human oral cancer

J Nutr Biochem. 2009 Dec;20(12):1013-20. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2008.09.007. Epub 2009 Jan 20.


Oral cancer is a prevalent type of cancer in Asian countries. Several studies indicated that garlic extracts such as diallyl disulfide (DADS) and diallyl trisulfide (DATS) have anticancer effects. However, the inhibitory effects of water soluble garlic extracts, S-allylcysteine (SAC), on the malignant progression of oral cancer have not been studied well yet. Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate the inhibitory effects of SAC on the proliferation and progression of human oral squamous cancer CAL-27 cells. In the present study, we demonstrated that SAC dose dependently inhibited the growth of human oral squamous cancer cells. Our results showed that SAC induced the expression of E-cadherin adhesion molecule. Immunocytochemical staining result also revealed that SAC could restore the distribution of E-cadherin molecule on cell membrane. We further demonstrated that SAC stabilized the adherent junction complex of E-cadherin/beta-catenin in oral cancer cells. Treatment with the MAPK/MEK specific inhibitor, PD098059, could up-regulate the expression of E-cadherin molecule. Furthermore, SAC significantly inhibited the activation of MAPK/ERK signaling pathway. These findings were associated with the down-regulation of the SLUG repressor protein. In conclusion, our results indicated that SAC effectively inhibited the proliferation, up-regulated the expression of E-cadherin molecule and stabilized the E-cadherin/beta-catenin adherent junction complex in human oral squamous cancer cells. The mechanism of action was in part through the suppression of MAPK/ERK signaling pathway and down-regulation of the SLUG repressor protein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adherens Junctions / drug effects
  • Cadherins / biosynthesis*
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cysteine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Cysteine / pharmacology
  • Cysteine / therapeutic use
  • Disease Progression
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • MAP Kinase Kinase 2 / metabolism
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3 / metabolism
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mouth Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Mouth Neoplasms / genetics
  • Snail Family Transcription Factors
  • Transcription Factors
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Cadherins
  • Flavonoids
  • SNAI1 protein, human
  • Snail Family Transcription Factors
  • Transcription Factors
  • S-allylcysteine
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3
  • MAP Kinase Kinase 2
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases
  • Cysteine
  • 2-(2-amino-3-methoxyphenyl)-4H-1-benzopyran-4-one