Friday, February 4, 2011

Broccoli's Cancer-Fighting Ability

Photo Credit: My Little Rascal
Many of you would have consumed this dish at least once over the festive CNY period.
You should be glad you did because of the extra goodness of broccoli.

Previous studies have shown that substances called isothiocyanates (or ITCs) -- found in broccoli, cauliflower, watercress, and other cruciferous vegetables -- appear to stop the growth of cancer.

One isothiocyanate found in broccoli is sulforaphane. Sulforaphane interacts with a protein called Nrf2, which serves as a master regulator of the body's overall antioxidant response and is capable of switching on hundreds of antioxidant defense pathways and may be able to interfere with the age-related decline in immune function. CLICK HERE for our January 6, 2010 report.

Tests mice with breast cancer suggest that sulphoraphane is able to ‘block’ the conversion of pro-carcinogen chemicals into carcinogens, enhance their breakdown in the body, and also ‘suppress’ the growth of cancerous cells. CLICK HERE for our May 7, 2010 report.

Now, Fung-Lung Chung and colleagues report that naturally occurring ITCs induce apoptosis on a variety of cancer cells by selectively removing the defective (mutant) p53 protein while apparently leaving the normal one alone. The tumor suppressor gene p53 appears to play a key role in keeping cells healthy and preventing them from starting the abnormal growth that is a hallmark of cancer. When mutated, p53 does not offer that protection, and those mutations occur in half of all human cancers.

The scientists also demonstrated that 2,2-Diphenylethyl ITC, a synthetic ITC is one of the most potent depletors of mutant p53 studies and induces apoptosis to the greatest extent in mutant p53 breast cancer cells.

Collectively, this study shows that mutant p53 depletion may be an important novel target for cancer chemoprevention and therapy by natural and synthetic ITCs.

Journal Reference:

Xiantao Wang, Anthony J. Di Pasqua, Sudha Govind, Erin McCracken, Charles Hong, Lixin Mi, Yuehua Mao, Jessie Yu-Chieh Wu, York Tomita, Jordan C. Woodrick, Robert L. Fine, Fung-Lung Chung. Selective Depletion of Mutant p53 by Cancer Chemopreventive Isothiocyanates and Their Structure−Activity Relationships. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Published online on January 11, 2011; 110111101729088 DOI: 10.1021/jm101199t

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