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Exp Dermatol. 2019 Jan;28(1):28-34. doi: 10.1111/exd.13802. Epub 2018 Dec 11.

Antitumor activity of sulforaphane in mice model of skin cancer via blocking sulfatase-2.

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Department of Internal Medicine (Dermatology), Faculty of Medicine, University of Tabuk, Tabuk, Saudi Arabia.
Department of Anatomy and Embryology, College of Medicine, Mansoura University, Mansoura, Egypt.


Although there are many treatment options for skin cancer, the chemotherapeutic agents for skin cancer are linked with many adverse effects as well as the development of multidrug resistance. Sulforaphane is an isothiocyanate, which is found in cruciferous vegetables. Consumption of sulforaphane-rich diet has been linked to inhibition of UV-exposed skin carcinogenesis. Therefore, the goal of this study was to determine the ability of sulforaphane to reduce skin cancer in mice through inhibition of sulfatase-2 enzyme. Epicutaneous application of 7,12-dimethylbenz (a) anthracene was performed on the shaved dorsal skin of mice followed by croton oil. Sulforaphane (9 μmol/mouse/day) was administered to mice orally. Skin was removed from the dorsal area for assessment of sulfatase-2, glypican-3, heparan sulphate proteoglycans (HSPGs), nuclear factor (NF)κB, nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, IL-1β and caspase-3. In addition, skin sections were stained with haematoxylin/eosin, Mallory and cytokeratin immunostaining. We found that, sulforaphane blocked sulfatase-2 activity, leading to significant elevation in HSPGs as well as significant reduction in glypican-3. In addition, sulforaphane significantly activated Nrf2 and reduced both the gene and protein expression of NFκB, TNF-α, IL-1β and caspase-3. In parallel, stained sections obtained from skin cancer mice treated with sulforaphane showed significant reduction in hyperkeratosis, acanthosis and epithelial dysplasia. The collective results indicate that sulforaphane suppresses skin cancer via blocking sulfatase-2 with subsequent elevation in HSPGs and reduction in glypican-3. Moreover, sulforaphane attenuated skin cancer-induced activation of inflammatory and apoptotic pathways.


caspase-3; glypican-3; heparan sulphate proteoglycans; interleukin-1β; nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2); nuclear factor κB; sulfatase-2; tumor necrosis factor-α


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