Benzyl isothiocyanate inhibits basal and hepatocyte growth factor-stimulated migration of breast cancer cells

Mol Cell Biochem. 2012 Jan;359(1-2):431-40. doi: 10.1007/s11010-011-1039-3. Epub 2011 Sep 3.


Benzyl isothiocyanate (BITC), which is found in cruciferous vegetables, has been shown to have anti-carcinogenic properties. Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) has the ability to stimulate dissociation, migration, and invasion in various tumor cells, and abnormally increased expressions of HGF and its transmembrane tyrosine kinase receptor, c-Met, have previously been detected in human breast cancer, and are associated with high tumor grade and poor prognosis. In this study, in order to assess the mechanisms relevant to the BITC-induced regulation of breast cancer cell migration and invasion, MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells and 4T1 murine mammary carcinoma cells were cultured in the presence of 0-4 μmol/l BITC with or without 10 μg/l of HGF. BITC inhibited both the basal and HGF-induced migration of MDA-MB-231 and 4T1 cells in a dose-dependent manner. In MDA-MB-231 cells, BITC reduced both basal and HGF-induced secretion and activity of urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA). In addition, BITC increased the protein levels of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1. HGF stimulated c-Met and Akt phosphorylation, but did not affect the phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase-1/2 or stress-activated protein/c-jun N-terminal kinase. BITC suppressed NF-κB activity and reduced the HGF-induced phosphorylation of c-Met and Akt in a dose-dependent manner. LY294002, a specific Akt inhibitor, reduced both basal and HGF-induced uPA secretion and migration of MDA-MB-231 cells. In this study, we demonstrated that BITC profoundly inhibits the migration and invasion of MDA-MB-231 cells, which is associated with reduced uPA activity, and also that these phenomena are accompanied by the suppression of Akt signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Female
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Isothiocyanates / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / prevention & control*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator / metabolism


  • Isothiocyanates
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor
  • benzyl isothiocyanate
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator