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Int J Cancer. 2005 Nov 10;117(3):356-62.

Modulation of hepatic cytochromes P450 and phase II enzymes by dietary doses of sulforaphane in rats: Implications for its chemopreventive activity.

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School of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, United Kingdom.


The principal objectives of our study were to ascertain whether sulforaphane, at dietary levels of intake, modulates rat hepatic cytochrome P450 and phase II enzyme systems and to evaluate the impact of such changes in the chemopreventive activity of this isothiocyanate. Animals were exposed to sulforaphane in their drinking water for 10 days, equivalent to daily doses of 3 and 12 mg/kg. Depentylation of pentoxyresorufin decreased and was paralleled by a decline in CYP2B apoprotein levels. At the higher dose, erythromycin N-demethylase activity declined and was accompanied by a similar decrease in CYP3A2 apoprotein levels. However, sulforaphane treatment upregulated CYP1A2 levels, determined immunologically, but the dealkylations of methoxy- and ethoxyresorufin were not similarly increased. Hepatic S9 preparations from sulforaphane-treated rats were less effective than control preparations in converting IQ (2-amino-3-methylimidazo-[4,5-f]quinoline) to mutagenic intermediates in the Ames test. To clarify the underlying mechanism, in vitro studies were undertaken. In beta-naphthoflavone-treated rats, the inhibition by sulforaphane of the O-dealkylations of methoxy- and ethoxyresorufin was enhanced if the isothiocyanate was preincubated in the presence of NADPH. It may be inferred that sulforaphane induces hepatic CYP1A2 but the enzyme is not catalytically competent because of bound sulforaphane metabolite(s). Finally, sulforaphane stimulated, in a dose-dependent fashion, quinone reductase but failed to influence glutathione S-transferase, epoxide hydrolase and glucuronosyl transferase activities. It is concluded that, even at dietary doses, sulforaphane can modulate the xenobiotic-metabolising enzyme systems, shifting the balance of carcinogen metabolism toward deactivation, and this may be an important mechanism of its chemopreventive activity.

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