The role of Sulforaphane in cancer chemoprevention and health benefits: a mini-review

J Cell Commun Signal. 2018 Mar;12(1):91-101. doi: 10.1007/s12079-017-0401-y. Epub 2017 Jul 23.


Cancer is a multi-stage process resulting from aberrant signaling pathways driving uncontrolled proliferation of transformed cells. The development and progression of cancer from a premalignant lesion towards a metastatic tumor requires accumulation of mutations in many regulatory genes of the cell. Different chemopreventative approaches have been sought to interfere with initiation and control malignant progression. Here we present research on dietary compounds with evidence of cancer prevention activity that highlights the potential beneficial effect of a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables. The Brassica family of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli is a rich source of glucosinolates, which are metabolized to isothiocyanate compounds. Amongst a number of related variants of isothiocyanates, sulforaphane (SFN) has surfaced as a particularly potent chemopreventive agent based on its ability to target multiple mechanisms within the cell to control carcinogenesis. Anti-inflammatory, pro-apoptotic and modulation of histones are some of the more important and known mechanisms by which SFN exerts chemoprevention. The effect of SFN on cancer stem cells is another area of interest that has been explored in recent years and may contribute to its chemopreventive properties. In this paper, we briefly review structure, pharmacology and preclinical studies highlighting chemopreventive effects of SFN.

Keywords: Chemopreventive agents; Isothiocyanates; Sulforaphane.