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Cytotoxic And Antitumor Activity Of Sulforaphane: The Role Of Reactive Oxygen Species

Piero Sestili, Carmela Fimognari

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According to recent estimates, cancer continues to remain the second leading cause of death and is becoming the leading one in old age. Failure and high systemic toxicity of conventional cancer therapies have accelerated the identification and development of innovative preventive as well as therapeutic strategies to contrast cancer-associated morbidity and mortality. In recent years, increasing body ofin vitroandin vivostudies has underscored the cancer preventive and therapeutic efficacy of the isothiocyanate sulforaphane. In this review article, we highlight that sulforaphane cytotoxicity derives from complex, concurring, and multiple mechanisms, among which the generation of reactive oxygen species has been identified as playing a central role in promoting apoptosis and autophagy of target cells. We also discuss the site and the mechanism of reactive oxygen species’ formation by sulforaphane, the toxicological relevance of sulforaphane-formed reactive oxygen species, and the death pathways triggered by sulforaphane-derived reactive oxygen species.