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Potential role of organic sulfur compounds from Allium species in cancer prevention and therapy

  • C. Scherer
  • C. Jacob
  • M. Dicato
  • M. DiederichEmail author
Article

Abstract

Phytochemical research has revealed that organic sulfur-containing compounds (OSCs) from Allium species exert biological effects, that might be beneficial in the treatment or prevention of a range of diseases, such as infections, cardiovascular and metabolic affections, cancers and related indispositions. Focusing physiological activities of these compounds in the context of cancer, it became clear from both epidemiological studies in men and experimental studies in diverse models, that the OSCs have a strong potential to prevent or to treat cancers even with selectivity against non-neoplastic cells. Though underlying mechanisms are not yet fully understood, several parts of their modes and mechanisms of action were elucidated: Pivotal molecular targets of as well chemoprevention as chemotherapy are metabolic, transporter or repair enzymes strongly affecting cell death, proliferation and formation of metastases. Accordingly effects are not restricted to the run of cell death programs, but they moreover comprise the strongly interdepending immune and inflammatory systems. Respectively, several hypotheses exist which are based on chemical properties of sulfur as the “pharmacophor” of the compounds appearing in up to ten different oxidation states (−2 to +6). Hence compounds can undergo redox-reactions and electrostatic interactions, making reactive oxygen species (ROS) a key feature of their mechanisms of action.

Keywords

Organic sulfur compounds from Allium species Chemoprevention Chemotherapy Modes and mechanisms of action 

Abbreviations

(A)GE

(Aged) garlic extract

AHQR

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Akt

Member of the protein kinase B-family

AML

Acute myeloid leukemia

AMS

Allyl methyl sulfide

AMTS

MATS allyl methyl trisulfide

ARE

Anti-oxidant response element

ATR

Ataxia-telangiectasia mutated and Rad3 related

Bcl-2

B-cell lymphoma 2

BPH

Benign prostatic hyperplasia

Cdk1

Cyclin dependent kinase1

Chk1

Checkpoint kinase1

COX

Cyclooxygenase

CYP450

Cytochrome P450

DADS

Diallyl disulfide

DAS

Diallyl sulfide

DATS

Diallyl trisulfide

DATTS

Diallyl tetrasulfide

DMTS

Dimethyl trisulfide

DPDS

Dipropyl disulfide

DPS

Dipropyl sulfide

DPTS

Dipropyl trisulfide

DPTTS

Dipropyl tetrasulfide

DU145

Human prostate cancer cells

ERK

Extracellular signal-regulated kinases

Ets-1

Erythroblastosis virus E26 oncogene homolog 1

γ-GCS

γ-Glutamylcysteine synthetase

G(P)E

Garlic (powder) extract

GO

Garlic oil

GP

Garlic powder

GST

Glutathione-S-transferase

HDAC

Histone deacetylase

HEK

Human embryonic kidney cells

HIF

Hypoxia-inducible factors

HL60

Human leukemia cells

HO1

Heme oxygenase 1

HUVEC

Human umbilical vein endothelial cells

IAP

Inhibitor of apoptosis protein family

ICAM

Intercellular adhesion molecule

IL

Interleukin

iNOS

Inducible nitric oxide synthase

JNK

c-Jun-terminal kinases

LDL

Low density proteins

LPS

lipopolysaccharide

MAPK

Mitogen-activated protein kinases

MDR

Multidrug resistance

NCI

National Cancer Institute

NFκB

Nuclear factor kappa B

NK

Natural killer cells

Nox

NADPH-oxidases

NQO1

NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase 1

Nrf2

Nuclear factor E2-related factor 2

OO

Onion oil

OSC(s)

Organic sulfur compound(s)

p53

Tumor suppressor protein (mass 53 kDa)

PBMCs

Peripheral blood mononuclear cells

PC-3

Human prostate cancer cells

P-gp

Glycoprotein P

PI3

Phosphatidylinositol

PMS

Propyl methyl sulfide

QR

Quinone reductase

Ref

Redox-factors

RNS

Reactive nitrogen species

ROS

Reactive oxygen species

SAC

S-Allyl cysteine

SAMC

S-Allyl mercaptocysteine

SH-SY5Y

Human neuroblastoma cells

SOD

Superoxide dismutase

SW480

Human colon adenocarcinoma cells

TNF

Tumor necrosis factor

UK

United Kingdom

VEGF

Vascular endothelial growth factor

Notes

Acknowledgement

CS thanks the “Ministère de la Culture, de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche of Luxembourg” for financial support by providing a “Bourse de formation-recherche”. Moreover researchers are indebted to “Télévie”, the “Fondation de Recherche Cancer et Sang” and “Recherches Scientifiques” Luxembourg association. Likewise the authors thank “Een Häerz fir Kriibskrank Kanner” association, the Action Lions “Vaincre le Cancer”, the Foundation for Scientific Cooperation between Germany and Luxemburg, and the Saarland University for additional support.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Scherer
    • 1
    • 2
  • C. Jacob
    • 2
  • M. Dicato
    • 1
  • M. Diederich
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire du CancerLuxembourgLuxemburg
  2. 2.Bioorganic ChemistrySaarland UniversitySaarbrückenGermany

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