The Antibacterial Properties of Isothiocyanates

Microbiology. 2015 Feb;161(Pt 2):229-243. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.082362-0. Epub 2014 Nov 6.


Isothiocyanates (ITCs) are natural plant products generated by the enzymic hydrolysis of glucosinolates found in Brassicaceae vegetables. These natural sulfur compounds and their dithiocarbamate conjugates have been previously evaluated for their anti-cancerous properties. Their antimicrobial properties have been previously studied as well, mainly for food preservation and plant pathogen control. Recently, several revelations concerning the mode of action of ITCs in prokaryotes have emerged. This review addresses these new studies and proposes a model to summarize the current knowledge and hypotheses for the antibacterial effect of ITCs and whether they may provide the basis for the design of novel antibiotics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Brassicaceae / chemistry*
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane / genetics
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Isothiocyanates / chemistry
  • Isothiocyanates / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Isothiocyanates
  • Plant Extracts
  • isothiocyanic acid