Isothiocyanates (ITCs) are electrophilic compounds derived from plants and are thought to play a major role in the potential chemopreventive effects associated with high intake of cruciferous vegetables. ITCs are also being evaluated for chemotherapeutic activity in early phase clinical trials. In addition to their effects on carcinogen metabolism and cancer cell survival and proliferation, ITCs have been shown to effectively interfere with angiogenesis in vitro and in vivo. Angiogenesis is the development of a new blood supply from existing vasculature and is required for tumours to develop beyond a small size limit determined by the diffusion limit for oxygen. Inhibition of angiogenesis may play a key role in the potential chemopreventive/chemotherapeutic activity of ITCs. In this review we highlight recent data demonstrating that ITCs have anti-angiogenic activity and identify potential molecular targets for these effects, including hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), nuclear factor κB (NF-κB), activator protein 1 (AP1) and tubulin. We also discuss these findings in light of the potential chemopreventive/chemotherapeutic effects of ITCs.
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