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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 964539, 12 pages
Review Article

Health Promoting Effects of Brassica-Derived Phytochemicals: From Chemopreventive and Anti-Inflammatory Activities to Epigenetic Regulation

Institute of Human Nutrition and Food Science, Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel, Hermann-Rodewald-Straβe 6, 24118 Kiel, Germany

Received 10 October 2013; Accepted 20 November 2013

Academic Editor: José Luís García-Giménez

Copyright © 2013 Anika Eva Wagner et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A high intake of brassica vegetables may be associated with a decreased chronic disease risk. Health promoting effects of Brassicaceae have been partly attributed to glucosinolates and in particular to their hydrolyzation products including isothiocyanates. In vitro and in vivo studies suggest a chemopreventive activity of isothiocyanates through the redox-sensitive transcription factor Nrf2. Furthermore, studies in cultured cells, in laboratory rodents, and also in humans support an anti-inflammatory effect of brassica-derived phytochemicals. However, the underlying mechanisms of how these compounds mediate their health promoting effects are yet not fully understood. Recent findings suggest that brassica-derived compounds are regulators of epigenetic mechanisms. It has been shown that isothiocyanates may inhibit histone deacetylase transferases and DNA-methyltransferases in cultured cells. Only a few papers have dealt with the effect of brassica-derived compounds on epigenetic mechanisms in laboratory animals, whereas data in humans are currently lacking. The present review aims to summarize the current knowledge regarding the biological activities of brassica-derived phytochemicals regarding chemopreventive, anti-inflammatory, and epigenetic pathways.