Brassica vegetables such as cabbage or pak choi contain alkenyl glucosinolates which can release epithionitriles and to a lesser degree isothiocyanates upon enzymatic hydrolysis. Here, for the first time, the metabolism of an epithionitrile was investigated in humans, namely 1-cyano-2,3-epithiopropane (CETP). After consumption of Brassica oleracea var. capitata f. alba and Brassica carinata sprouts, the main urinary metabolite of CETP was identified as N-acetyl-S-(3-cyano-2-(methylsulfanyl)propyl-cysteine using an UHPLC-ESI-QToF-MS approach and synthesis of the metabolite. This urinary epithionitrile metabolite is an S-methylated mercapturic acid. No other metabolites were detected. Then, in a preliminary pilot experiment the excretion kinetics of CETP were investigated in three volunteers. After consumption of a B. carinata sprout preparation containing 50.8 µmol of CETP, urinary N-acetyl-S-(3-cyano-2-(methylsulfanyl)propyl-cysteine concentrations were the highest three hours after consumption, ranging from 23.9 to 37.2 µM, and declined thereafter. Thus, epithionitriles are bioavailable compounds that are metabolized similarly to isothiocyanates by the mercapturic acid pathway. In the future, more epithionitrile metabolites should be identified and the pharmacokinetics of these important class of dietary compounds should be assessed in more detail.
Identification of N-acetyl-S- (3-cyano-2-(methylsulfanyl) propyl-cysteine as a major human urine metabolite from the epithionitrile 1-cyano-2,3-epithiopropane, the main glucosinolate hydrolysis product from cabbage
Hanschen, F.S.; Baldermann, S.; Brobrowski, A.; Maikath, A.; WiesnerReinhold, M.; Rohn, S.; Schreiner, M. 2019. Identification of N-acetyl-S- (3-cyano-2-(methylsulfanyl) propyl-cysteine as a major human urine metabolite from the epithionitrile 1-cyano-2,3-epithiopropane, the main glucosinolate hydrolysis product from cabbage. Nutrients 11, 908.