The antioxidant properties of organosulfur compounds (sulforaphane)

Recent Pat Endocr Metab Immune Drug Discov. 2015;9(1):24-39. doi: 10.2174/1872214809666150505164138.


Sulforaphane (SFN) is a molecule within the isothiocyanate (ITC) group of organosulfur compounds. SFN is a phytochemical commonly found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbages. It has been widely studied in order to evaluate its chemopreventive properties and some of those have already been established by means of animal and human models. The SFN induces Phase I and II enzymes involved in detoxification processes of chemical carcinogens in order to prevent the start of carcinogenesis. It also presents anti-tumor action at post-initiation Phase, suggesting supplementary roles in cancer prevention. In a dose dependent manner, ITC inhibits the viability of human cancer cells, modifies epigenetic events that occur in cancer cells and present antiinflammatory effect acting during the initial of uncontrolled cell proliferation. This protective effect may be due to its antioxidant status, its recognized capacity to induce the expression and/or activity of of different cytoprotective proteins involved in the activating "Nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2-like 2" (Nrf2). Nevertheless, the effects on health and the possible connections among different diet constituents in humans must be carefully studied as there are limitations in the current data in order to better understand the molecular mechanisms responsible for those effects. This survey also includes relevant patents on the use of SFN, like its use in skin cancer treatment (US2015038580); and as an adjuvant in anti-cancer treatment (US2014228419). The use of SFN as an antioxidant dietary supplement, methods for compositions that promote glutathione production (WO2015002279) and methods for extracting and purifying SFN from broccoli seeds (CN104086469) are also included in this review.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Antioxidants / adverse effects
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Dietary Supplements* / adverse effects
  • Drug Design
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Isothiocyanates / adverse effects
  • Isothiocyanates / chemistry
  • Isothiocyanates / therapeutic use*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Patents as Topic
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Sulfoxides


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Antioxidants
  • Isothiocyanates
  • Sulfoxides
  • sulforaphane