Sulforaphane, A Compound Found In Broccoli With Potent Anti-cancer.

Chemical name: (R)-1-isothiocyanate-4-methyl-butane sulfonyl

Sulforaphane is a compound with antioxidant properties and is capable of stimulating detoxifying enzymes present in the body, and thus a potent preventive agent against cancer. Phytochemical belonging to the family of isothiocyanates, compounds that contain sulfur. It occurs in plants attached to a sugar molecule, the glicosinato sulfarafano (glucorafanina). Only after eating the sulfarafano will be released by an enzyme called myrosinase, and can be found on plants in the family Brassicaceae (Cruciferae) such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale (Brassica oleracea) and Chinese cabbage (B . rapa). However the greatest concentration of Sulforaphane is present in shoots of broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. var. Italica).

Many epidemiological studies, supported by in vitro and in vivo (Gasper et al., 2006), have been reported associated with the potential to reduce the risk of various cancers by substances contained in vegetables. Among its constituents are the fibers, micronutrients, phytochemicals such as carotenoids, phenols, isoflavones and isothiocyanates that have anti cancer activity (Steinmetz & Potter, 1991). These substances induce detoxifying enzymes, oxidative agents, which inhibit malignant mutations, stimulate immunity and regulate the cell cycle (Liu, 2004). Other studies indicate a positive correlation between consumption of cruciferous vegetables and a reduction of some types of cancer such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, liver, prostate, cervical, ovarian, lung and gastrointestinal tract (Lund, 2003, Nagle et al., 2003; Murillo & Mehta, 2001). Oral administration of Sulforaphane inhibited or delayed carcinogenesis in breast cancer (Zhang et al., 1994), colon (Chung et al., 2000), rectum (Seow, 2002), stomach (Fahey et al., 2002) and lung (Hecht, 2000).

Recent research has indicated that the use of certain compound in the diet act as quimioproteo (Chung et al., 2000, Shapiro et al., 2001, Chiao et al., 2002), such as isothiocyanates, which have promising evidence in the reduction of cancer prostate cancer (Brooks et al., 2001, Chiao et al. 2002; Kristal & Lampe, 2002, Wang et al., 2004, Srivastava et al., 2003, Xiao et al., 2003, Singh et al. 2005 ) and breast cancer (Ambrosone et al., 2004, Jackson & Singletary, 2004). According to research conducted by Singh et al. (2004), Sulforaphane and highly effective in reducing or preventing the risk of cancer induced by carcinogen in animal models. It is able to inhibit or delay carcinogenesis caused by smoking (Hecht, 2000). The Sulforaphane has been shown to be effective against oxidative damage on skin cells in the retinal pigment cells and leukemia (Gao et al. 2001; Fimognari et al. 2002; Misiewicz et al., 2003), has antibacterial activity against Helicobacter pylori ( Fahey et al., 2002), anti-inflammatory activity (Heiss et al., 2001), and against skin cancer caused by exposure to sunlight (Gills, et al., 2003). Ritz et al. (2007), have shown the beneficial effects of Sulforaphane on reducing the toxicity caused by diesel.

After the breakdown of tissue glucosinolates are hydrolyzed by the enzyme contained in the plant, myrosinase, to an unstable aglycone that rearranges in isothiocyanate or nitrile derivatives. When cooked, the enzyme myrosinase can be denatured, resulting in the ingestion of intact glucosinolates, yet the isothiocyanate still appears in the urine. Depending on how the broccoli is processed, sulforaphane can be absorbed by the stomach, intestine or colon after passive diffusion epithelial cells is rapidly conjugated with glutathione and transported to the bloodstream (Conaway et al., 2000).

Marcelo Rigotti.

Agronomist, Dsc. Agronomy.