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Enzymes. 2015;37:167-92. doi: 10.1016/bs.enz.2015.05.003. Epub 2015 Jun 22.

Anticancer Mechanism of Sulfur-Containing Compounds.

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Interdepartmental Center for Industrial Research, Alma Mater Studiorum-University of Bologna, Rimini, Italy.
Department for Life Quality Studies, Alma Mater Studiorum-University of Bologna, Rimini, Italy. Electronic address:


Fruit and vegetables have traditionally represented a main source for the discovery of many biologically active substances with therapeutic values. Among the many bioactive compounds identified over the years, sulfur-containing compounds, which are present especially in the genera Allium and Brassica, have been showing a protective effect against different types of cancer. Many in vitro and in vivo studies reported that apoptosis is crucial for the anticancer effects of sulfur-containing compounds. Garlic and onion compounds and isothiocyanates contained in Brassica vegetables are able to modulate apoptosis by a wide range of mechanisms. This chapter will give an overview on the induction of apoptosis by sulfur-containing compounds in cancer cells and their different molecular mechanisms. Finally, the potential clinical implications of their proapoptotic effects will be discussed.


Allicin; Allium; Apoptosis; Brassica; Cancer cells; Diallyl disulfide; Diallyl trisulfide; Phenethyl isothiocyanate; Sulforaphane; Sulfur-containing compounds


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