4-Methylthiobutyl isothiocyanate (erucin) from rocket plant dichotomously affects the activity of human immunocompetent cells.
Isothiocyanates (ITC) from the Brassicaceae plant family are regarded as promising for prevention and treatment of cancer. However, experimental settings consider their therapeutic action without taking into account the risk of unwanted effects on the healthy tissues. In the present study we investigated the effects of Eruca sativa seed extract containing MTBITC (Erucin) and pure Erucin from rocket plant on healthy cells of the human immune system in vitro. Hereby, high doses of the plant extract as well as of Erucin inhibited cell viability of human lymphocytes via induction of apoptosis to comparable amounts. Non-toxic low concentrations of the plant extract and pure Erucin altered the expression of the interleukin (IL)-2 receptor but did not affect further T cell activation, proliferation and the release of the effector molecules interferon (IFN)-gamma and IL-2 of T-lymphocytes. However, the activity of NK-cells was significantly reduced by non-toxic concentrations of the plant extract and pure Erucin. These results indicate that the plant extract and pure Erucin interferes with function of human T lymphocytes and decreases the activity of NK-cells in comparable concentrations. Long-term clinical studies with ITC-enriched plant extracts from Brassicaceae should take this into account.
Gründemann, C.; Garcia-Käufer, M.; Lamy, E.; Hanschen, F.S.; Huber, R. 2015. 4-Methylthiobutyl isothiocyanate (erucin) from rocket plant dichotomously affects the activity of human immunocompetent cells. Phytomedicine 22 (3), 369-378.