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Biochem Pharmacol. 2000 Jul 15;60(2):221-31.

Studies on the mechanism of the inhibition of human leukaemia cell growth by dietary isothiocyanates and their cysteine adducts in vitro.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Central Campus, Wivenhoe Park, CO4 3SQ, Essex, Colchester, UK.


The dietary isothiocyanates and cancer chemopreventive agents phenethyl isothiocyanate and allyl isothiocyanate and their cysteine conjugates inhibited the growth and induced apoptosis of human leukaemia HL60 (p53-) and human myeloblastic leukaemia-1 cells (p53+) in vitro. The median growth inhibitory concentration (GC(50)) values were in the range 1.49-3.22 microM in cultures with 10% serum. Isothiocyanates and cysteine conjugates had increased potency against HL60 cells in serum-free medium, with GC(50) values of 0.8-0. 9 microM. The potency of the compounds decreased with increased serum content of the medium, but that of the cysteine conjugates decreased more markedly. Growth inhibition and toxicity was characterised by either a rapid interaction of the isothiocyanate with the cells in the first hour of culture or exposure to isothiocyanate liberated from the cysteine conjugate in the initial 3 hr of culture, inhibition of macromolecule synthesis, and a commitment to apoptosis which developed in the initial 24 hr. Activities of caspase-3 and caspase-8 were increased during isothiocyanate-induced apoptosis, but caspase-1 activity was not. The general caspase inhibitor N-benzyloxycarbonyl-Val-Ala-Asp(OMe)-fluoromethylketone and the specific caspase-8 inhibitor N-benzyloxycarbonyl-Ile-Glu(OMe)-Thr-Asp(OMe)-fluoromethylketone inhibited apoptosis, but specific caspase-1 and caspase-3 inhibitors did not. The antiproliferative activities were limited by hydrolysis of the isothiocyanate. This suggests that caspase-8 has a critical role, and caspase-3 a supporting role, in isothiocyanate-induced apoptosis in which p53 is not an obligatory participant. Isothiocyanate-induced apoptosis may suppress the growth of preclinical tumours and contribute to the well-established decreased cancer incidence associated with a vegetable-rich diet.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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