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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1998 Feb 2;1379(2):233-44.

The mode of action of allicin: trapping of radicals and interaction with thiol containing proteins.

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Department of Membrane Research and Biophysics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.


Allicin (thio-2-propene-1-sulfinic acid S-allyl ester) is the main biologically active component of garlic clove extracts. Its biological activity was attributed to either antioxidant activity or thiol disulfide exchange. Antioxidant properties of both allicin and its precursor, alliin (+S-allyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide), were investigated in the Fenton oxygen-radical generating system [H2O2-Fe(II)]. Using the spin trapping technique and ESR, it was found that both compounds possessed significant antioxidant activity. The reaction between allicin and L-cysteine was studied by 1H and 13C-NMR, and a S-thiolation product, S-allylmercaptocysteine, was identified. Allicin irreversibly inhibited SH-protease papain, NADP(+)-dependent alcohol dehydrogenase from Thermoanaerobium brockii (TBAD), and the NAD(+)-dependent alcohol dehydrogenase from horse liver (HLAD). All the three enzymes could be reactivated with thiol containing compounds. Papain could be reactivated with glutathione, TBAD with dithiothreitol or 2-mercaptoethanol (2-ME) but not by glutathione, while HLAD could be reactivated only with 2-ME. This study demonstrates that in addition to its antioxidant activity, the major biological effect of allicin should be attributed to its rapid reaction with thiol containing proteins.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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