The AAPS Journal

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 951–961 | Cite as

Phytochemicals from Cruciferous Vegetables, Epigenetics, and Prostate Cancer Prevention

  • Gregory W. Watson
  • Laura M. Beaver
  • David E. Williams
  • Roderick H. Dashwood
  • Emily Ho
Review Article Theme: Natural Products Drug Discovery in Cancer Prevention


Epidemiological evidence has demonstrated a reduced risk of prostate cancer associated with cruciferous vegetable intake. Follow-up studies have attributed this protective activity to the metabolic products of glucosinolates, a class of secondary metabolites produced by crucifers. The metabolic products of glucoraphanin and glucobrassicin, sulforaphane, and indole-3-carbinol respectively, have been the subject of intense investigation by cancer researchers. Sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol inhibit prostate cancer by both blocking initiation and suppressing prostate cancer progression in vitro and in vivo. Research has largely focused on the anti-initiation and cytoprotective effects of sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol through induction of phases I and II detoxification pathways. With regards to suppressive activity, research has focused on the ability of sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol to antagonize cell signaling pathways known to be dysregulated in prostate cancer. Recent investigations have characterized the ability of sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol derivatives to modulate the activity of enzymes controlling the epigenetic status of prostate cancer cells. In this review, we will summarize the well-established, “classic” non-epigenetic targets of sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol, and highlight more recent evidence supporting these phytochemicals as epigenetic modulators for prostate cancer chemoprevention.


epigenetic I3C prostate cancer sulforaphane 



Our work is funded by NIH grants CA90890, CA65525, CA122906, CA122959, and CA80176 and by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Center grant P30 ES00210.


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© American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory W. Watson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Laura M. Beaver
    • 2
  • David E. Williams
    • 2
    • 3
  • Roderick H. Dashwood
    • 2
    • 3
  • Emily Ho
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Molecular and Cellular BiologyOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  2. 2.Linus Pauling InstituteOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  3. 3.Environmental and Molecular ToxicologyOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  4. 4.Biological and Population Health SciencesOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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