The components of Wasabia japonica are known to have many pharmacological effects. Among them, wasabi has been claimed to exert anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory properties through unknown molecular mechanisms. For example, oral ingestion of wasabi causes a transient burning sensation in the nose, producing a decongestant effect.
A number of studies have indicated that wasabi could be a potential medicinal product that shares pharmacological properties with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. 6-MITC (6-methylsulfinyhexyl isothiocyanate) is an effective agent to attenuate COX-2 production (Uto et al., 2005). It suppresses prostaglandin synthesis through inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2. Many studies investigated the anti-cancer effect of wasabi but no real study have been published regarding the anti-inflammatory effects of ITCs (isothiocyanates) of wasabi although chronic inflammation and carcinogenesis are thought to be mechanistically linked.
Transfection studies demonstrated that the induction of transcription of the quinone oxidoreductase gene by 6-MITC involved an antioxidant/electrophile-responsive element (ARE/EpRE) activation. Results suggest a novel mechanism by which dietary wasabi and 6-MITC may be implicated in cancer chemoprevention (De-Xing, 2000). Researchers at Nagoya University found 6-MITC to be a potent inducer of glutathione S-transferase, an important Phase II detoxification enzyme Morimitsu et al., 2000). 6-MITC has also been shown to inhibit in vitro cell proliferation in human leukemia and stomach cancer cells by promoting apoptosis (Watanabe et al., 2003; Xu and Thornalley 2003). Others studies have shown that 6-MITC is easily absorbed and can enter the circulatory system at its maximum level within 30 minutes stimulate glutathione S-transferase for extended periods. Additional experiments have found that isothiocyanates inhibit rat lung, esophagus, mammary gland, liver, small intestine, colon, and bladder tumorigenesis (Hecht, 1995). These results have led researchers to consider isothiocyanates to be readily available cancer chemopreventive agents.
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Benzyl isothiocyanate inhibits excessive superoxide generation in inflammatory leukocytes: implication for prevention against inflammation-related carcinogenesis
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Rose P, Won YK, Ong CN, Whiteman M.. Beta-phenylethyl and 8-methylsulphinyloctyl isothiocyanates, constituents of watercress, suppress LPS induced production of nitric oxide and prostaglandin E2 in RAW 264.7 macrophages. Nitric Oxide. 2005 Jun;12 (4):237-43.
Uto T, Fujii M, Hou DX. Inhibition of lipopolysaccharide-induced cyclooxygenase-2 transcription by 6-(methylsulfinyl) hexyl isothiocyanate, a chemopreventive compound from Wasabia japonica (Miq.) Matsumura, in mouse macrophages. Biochem Pharmacol. 2005 Dec 5;70(12):1772-84. Epub 2005 Oct 27.
Watanabe M, Ohata M, Hayakawa S, et al. Identification of 6-methylsulfinyhexyl isothiocyanate as an apoptosis-inducing component in wasabi. Phytochemistry. 2003 Mar; 62(5):733-9.
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