Comparison of isothiocyanate metabolite levels and histone deacetylase activity in human subjects consuming broccoli sprouts or broccoli supplement

J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Oct 26;59(20):10955-63. doi: 10.1021/jf202887c. Epub 2011 Sep 30.


Increased consumption of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli may reduce the risk of various cancers. Myrosinase is required to convert dietary glucosinolates from broccoli into bioactive isothiocyanates. We evaluated isothiocyanate excretion profiles in healthy subjects who consumed broccoli sprouts or broccoli supplement (no myrosinase) with equivalent glucosinolate content. Urinary metabolites of two major isothiocyanates, sulforaphane and erucin, were measured by liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry. Peak excretion of sulforaphane and erucin was higher and occurred sooner in subjects who consumed broccoli sprouts as compared to subjects who consumed the supplement. A subject-dependent shift in the ratio of urinary sulforaphane to erucin metabolites was observed in both groups, indicating conversion of sulforaphane to erucin. Lower histone deacetylase activity was observed in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells only in subjects consuming sprouts. Fresh broccoli sprouts differ from broccoli supplements in regards to excretion of isothiocyanates and bioactivity in human subjects.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brassica*
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Glucose / analogs & derivatives
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glucosinolates / metabolism
  • Histone Deacetylases / blood*
  • Humans
  • Imidoesters / metabolism
  • Isothiocyanates / metabolism*
  • Isothiocyanates / urine
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plant Shoots*
  • Sulfides / urine
  • Thiocyanates / urine


  • Glucosinolates
  • Imidoesters
  • Isothiocyanates
  • Sulfides
  • Thiocyanates
  • glucoerucin
  • erucin
  • Histone Deacetylases
  • sulforafan
  • Glucose
  • glucoraphanin