Cruciferous Vegetables as Antioxidative, Chemopreventive and Antineoplasic Functional Foods: Preclinical and Clinical Evidences of Sulforaphane Against Prostate Cancers

Curr Pharm Des. 2018;24(40):4779-4793. doi: 10.2174/1381612825666190116124233.


Background: Sulforaphane (SF, 1-isothiocyanato-4-(methyl-sulfinyl)-butane) is found in broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.

Methods: we performed a critical review on the antioxidative, chemopreventive and antitumor effects of SF from cruciferous vegetables against prostate cancers and molecular pathways. For a complete and reliable review, primary and secondary resources were used, including original and review articles, books and government documents published until March 2018. Articles that are in duplicity and disconnected are not considered for review. SF is derived from glucoraphanin (4-methyl-sulfinyl-butyl-glucosinate), being one of the most commonly found isothiocyanates in vegetables from Brassica spp., especially in broccoli samples. In vitro studies indicate that SF induces apoptosis in a dependent or non-dependent method of androgens by transcription of tumor suppressor genes, oxidation response and higher expression of phase II enzymes in prostate cancer cells. Sulforaphane also decreases transcription of the nuclear factor kB and antiapoptotic proteins, expression of cyclin D2 and survivin and DNA synthesis, increases Nrf2 gene activity, interferes with genome compacting by inhibition of histone deacetylases and disrupts Hsp90 complexes, which cause cell cycle arrest, mitosis interruption, activation of caspases and mitochondria depolarization.

Conclusion: SF and cruciferous vegetables play antioxidative and chemopreventive role, delaying or blocking in vivo carcinogenesis, causing biochemical and epigenetic changes, preventing, delaying, or reversing preneoplastic or advanced prostate lesions, and frequently activating tumor cell death by intrinsic methods of apoptosis. These outcomes encourage the consumption of Brassica specimens, which could be easily achieved by the incorporation of food and vegetables rich in cruciferous isothiocyanates in the diet.

Keywords: Antioxidant action; apoptosis; epigenetic mechanisms; oxidative carcinogenesis; signaling pathways; sulforaphane..

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Brassicaceae / chemistry*
  • Functional Food*
  • Humans
  • Isothiocyanates / chemistry
  • Isothiocyanates / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Sulfoxides
  • Vegetables / chemistry*


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