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J Cell Biochem Suppl. 1997;27:76-85.

Chemopreventive potential of thiol conjugates of isothiocyanates for lung cancer and a urinary biomarker of dietary isothiocyanates.

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Division of Carcinogenesis and Molecular Epidemiology, American Health Foundation, Valhalla, New York 10595, USA.


Natural and synthetic isothiocyanates (ITCs) are versatile chemopreventive agents in many animal systems. We have shown that phenethyl ITC (PEITC) and 6-phenylhexyl ITC (PHITC) are potent inhibitors against lung tumorigenesis induced by tobacco nitrosamine 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) in both mouse and rat. The mechanism by which these ITCs inhibited lung tumorigenesis is attributed to their ability to decrease cytochrome P450 (P450) enzyme activities involved in the activation of NNK. Recently, we have found that thiol conjugates of ITCs inhibit P450 enzymes and are effective inhibitors of lung tumorigenesis. This is significant because conjugation with cellular thiols is the major route of ITC metabolism via the mercapturic acid pathway in rodents and humans. The thiol conjugates are less pungent and potentially less toxic, and they are more soluble and chemically less reactive than ITCs. These properties raise the prospect of substituting thiol conjugates for ITCs as chemopreventive agents. Furthermore, although ample rodent studies have established that ITCs inhibit tumorigenesis, the protective role of dietary ITCs against human cancers has not yet been established. As a prerequisite for such human studies, we have developed an HPLC-based assay, based on the condensation reaction of ITCs or conjugates with 1,2-benzenedithiol, for measuring a cyclocondensation product in human urine as an uptake biomarker of total ITCs. This assay was validated using urine samples from subjects who had ingested a known amount of watercress or mustard in a controlled diet. The assay is convenient and rapid, showing promise for analyzing urine samples obtained from population-based studies. Results from two such studies are presented to illustrate the potential application of this biomarker in epidemiologic studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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