Journal of Cell Communication and Signaling

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 91–101 | Cite as

The role of Sulforaphane in cancer chemoprevention and health benefits: a mini-review

  • Reza Bayat MokhtariEmail author
  • Narges Baluch
  • Tina S. Homayouni
  • Evgeniya Morgatskaya
  • Sushil Kumar
  • Parandis Kazemi
  • Herman YegerEmail author
Research Article


Cancer is a multi-stage process resulting from aberrant signaling pathways driving uncontrolled proliferation of transformed cells. The development and progression of cancer from a premalignant lesion towards a metastatic tumor requires accumulation of mutations in many regulatory genes of the cell. Different chemopreventative approaches have been sought to interfere with initiation and control malignant progression. Here we present research on dietary compounds with evidence of cancer prevention activity that highlights the potential beneficial effect of a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables. The Brassica family of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli is a rich source of glucosinolates, which are metabolized to isothiocyanate compounds. Amongst a number of related variants of isothiocyanates, sulforaphane (SFN) has surfaced as a particularly potent chemopreventive agent based on its ability to target multiple mechanisms within the cell to control carcinogenesis. Anti-inflammatory, pro-apoptotic and modulation of histones are some of the more important and known mechanisms by which SFN exerts chemoprevention. The effect of SFN on cancer stem cells is another area of interest that has been explored in recent years and may contribute to its chemopreventive properties. In this paper, we briefly review structure, pharmacology and preclinical studies highlighting chemopreventive effects of SFN.


Chemopreventive agents Isothiocyanates Sulforaphane 



We thank Dr. Bikul Das, M.D., Ph.D. (The Forsyth Institute; Cambridge, MA) for critical review of the manuscript.

Author contributions

Analysis and interpretation of the data: RBM, NB, HY; writing of the manuscript: RBM, NB, TSH, ZM, SK, PK and critical revision of the manuscript for intellectual content: RBM, NB, HY.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

None of the authors have any competing interests in the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© The International CCN Society 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reza Bayat Mokhtari
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  • Narges Baluch
    • 5
  • Tina S. Homayouni
    • 1
  • Evgeniya Morgatskaya
    • 1
  • Sushil Kumar
    • 1
  • Parandis Kazemi
    • 1
  • Herman Yeger
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Developmental and Stem Cell BiologyThe Hospital for Sick ChildrenTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Paediatric Laboratory MedicineThe Hospital for Sick ChildrenTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Institute of Medical ScienceUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Sickkids Research Center, Peter Gilgan CentreTorontoCanada
  5. 5.Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Richardson LaboratoryQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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