Planta Med 1995; 61(3): 233-236
DOI: 10.1055/s-2006-958062

© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

In Vitro and In Vivo Antitumor Activity of Benzyl Isothiocyanate: A Natural Product from Tropaeolum majus

Ana M. Pintão1 , M. Salomé S. Pais1 , Helen Coley2 , Lloyd R. Kelland2 , Ian R. Judson2
  • 1Departamento de Biologia Vegetal, Faculdade de Ciências de Lisboa, Bloco C2, Campo Grande, P-1700 Lisboa, Portugal
  • 2CRC Centre for Cancer Therapeutics, The Institute of Cancer Research, 15 Cotswold Road, Belmont, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5NG, U.K.
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Publication History



Publication Date:
04 January 2007 (online)


Cultured cells of Tropaeolum majus produce significant amounts of benzyl glucosinolate which, through enzymatic hydrolysis, results in the production of benzyl isothiocyanate (BITC). This study reports on the in vitro anticancer properties of BITC against a variety of human and murine tumor cell lines by four independent methods; SRB, MTT, cell counting, and clonogenic assays. Regardless of the assay used, BITC showed promising cytotoxicity in the low micromolar range (0.86 to 9.4 µM) against four human ovarian carcinoma cell lines (SKOV-3, 41 -M, CHI, CHlcisR), a human lung tumor (H-69), a murine leukemia (L-1210), and a murine plasmacytoma (PC6/sens). The L1210 cells were most sensitive. BITC administered to mice bearing the ADJ/PC6 plasmacytoma subcutaneous tumor showed toxic effects at a dose of 200 mg/kg (within 24 h of drug administration) but no reduction in tumor mass. However, the growth inhibitory properties of BITC against a range of tumor cell types warrant further in vivo anti-tumor evaluation as well as its biotechnological production.