Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and watercress, have been studied extensively aiming to evaluate their
chemopreventive properties. Some of them have already been established using animal models. The ITCs induce Phase II
enzymes related to detoxification processes of chemical carcinogens to prevent the start of carcinogenesis. They also exhibit
antitumor activity at post-initiation phase, suggesting their additional role(s) in cancer prevention. Sulforaphane is
the most extensively studied isothiocyanate, focused in its anti-tumoral activity and it is mainly found in great amounts in
broccoli and other cruciferous. In a dose dependent manner, ITCs inhibit the cell viability of human cervical cancer cells,
human pancreatic cancer cells, human hepatocellular carcinoma cells, human ovarian cancer cells, and have antiinflammatory
properties in the treatment of human T-cell leukemia cells. This protective effect may be due to improved
antioxidant status. Although the health effects of diet in humans are generally considered promising, there are definite
challenges and limitations of the current data in better understanding of the molecular mechanisms responsible for this effect,
together with the possible interactions between different dietary constituents. The survey of relevant patents on the
use of isothiocyanates such as sulforaphane for cancer and cardiovascular diseases treatments is also included in this review.
Brassicaceae, cancer chemoprevention, diet, isothiocyanates, sulforaphane.
Escola de Nutrição, Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto, Campus Morro do Cruzeiro, Ouro Preto Minas Gerais, CEP 35400-000, Brazil.