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Toxicol Lett. 1995 Dec;82-83:173-9.

Chemoprotection against cancer by phase 2 enzyme induction.

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Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Mammalian cells have evolved elaborate mechanisms for protection against the toxic and neoplastic effects of electrophilic metabolites of carcinogens and reactive oxygen species. Phase 2 enzymes (e.g. glutathione transferase, NAD(P)H:quinone reductase, UDP-glucuronosyltransferases) and high intracellular levels of glutathione play a prominent role in providing such protection. Phase 2 enzymes are transcriptionally induced by low concentrations of a wide variety of chemical agents and such induction blocks chemical carcinogenesis. The inducers belong to many chemical classes including phenolic antioxidants. Michael reaction acceptors, isothiocyanates, 1,2-dithiole-3-thiones, trivalent arsenicals, HgCl2 and organomercurials, hydroperoxides, and vicinal dimercaptans. Induction by all classes of inducers involves the antioxidant/electrophile response element (ARE/EpRE). Inducers are widely, but unequally, distributed among edible plants. Search for such inducer activity in broccoli led to the isolation of sulforaphane, an isothiocyanate that is a very potent Phase 2 enzyme inducer and blocks mammary tumor formation in rats.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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