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Fitoterapia. 2015 Oct;106:12-21. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2015.08.001. Epub 2015 Aug 6.

An overview on neuroprotective effects of isothiocyanates for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

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IRCCS Centro Neurolesi "Bonino-Pulejo", Via Provinciale Palermo, Contrada Casazza, 98124 Messina, Italy.
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Biomolecular Sciences Programme, Laurentian University, 935 Ramsey Lake Road, Sudbury, ON P3E 2C6, Canada.
Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l'analisi dell'economia agraria, Centro di Ricerca per le Colture Industriali (CRA-CIN), Via Di Corticella 133, Bologna 40128, Italy.
Institut de Chimie Organique et Analytique (ICOA) - UMR 7311, Université d'Orléans, BP 6759, 45067 Orléans Cedex 2, France.
IRCCS Centro Neurolesi "Bonino-Pulejo", Via Provinciale Palermo, Contrada Casazza, 98124 Messina, Italy. Electronic address:


The discovery of new natural compounds with pharmacological properties is a field of interest widely growing, especially for the management of neurodegenerative diseases. As no pharmacological treatment is available to prevent the development of these disorders, dietary intake of foods or plant-based extracts with antioxidant properties might have beneficial effects on human health and improve brain functions. Isothiocyanates (ITCs), derived from the hydrolysis of the corresponding glucosinolates (GLs), mainly found in Brassica vegetables (Brassicaceae) and, to a lesser extent, in Moringaceae plants, have demonstrated to exert neuroprotective properties. Specifically, strong evidences suggest that antioxidant effects may be ascribed mainly to their peculiar ability to activate the Nrf2/ARE pathway, but alternative mechanisms of action have also been suggested. This review summarizes the current knowledge about the neuroprotective effects of ITCs in counteracting oxidative stress as well as inflammatory and apoptotic mechanisms, using in vitro and in vivo models of acute and chronic neurodegenerative disease. Therefore, ITCs could be regarded as a promising source of alternative medicine for the prevention and/or treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.


Brassicaceae; Isothiocyanates; Moringaceae; Neurodegenerative diseases; Nrf2/ARE pathway; Oxidative stress

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