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Anticancer properties of allicin

A study conducted at the Nanjing Medical University, China, concluded that allicin inhibited the invasion and metastasis of human colon carcinoma cells in vitro at non-cytotoxic concentration through down-regulating the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), urokinase receptor (uPAR) and heparanase mRNA [1]. The researchers tested the effect of allicin on invasion and metastasis of human colon cancer cell line LoVo in vitro by using migratory test, adhesion test and Transwell chamber experiment. Allicin showed an inhibitive effects on growth of the cells in a dose and time-dependent manner. The phytochemicals suppressed the movement, adhesion and invasive capability of carcinoma cells.

A study by the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, demonstrated the antiproliferative function of allicin on two leukemia cell lines (HL60 and U937) [2]. They found that allicin showed anticancer effect by inducing growth inhibition, apoptotic events such as blebbing, mitochondrial membrane depolarization, cytochrome c release into the cytosol, activation of caspase 9 and caspase 3 and DNA fragmentation. Allicin reduced glutathione in the cytosol and mitochondria and changed the intracellular redox status.

Siddique and Afzal of the Aligarh Muslim University, India, investigated the antigenotoxic potential of allicin in cultured human lymphocytes using chromosomal aberrations and sister chromatid exchanges induced by the genotoxic methyl methanesulphonate [3]. They found that allicin treatment reduced the damage caused by the genotoxin, as illustrated by lower levels of chromosomal aberrations and sister chromatid exchanges.

[1] Effects of allicin on invasion and metastasis of colon cancer LoVo cell line in vitro. Zhonghua Yi Xue Za Zhi. 2009 May 26;89(20):1382-6.
[2] Allicin inhibits cell growth and induces apoptosis through the mitochondrial pathway in HL60 and U937 cells. J Nutr Biochem. 2008 Aug;19(8):524-35.
[3] Antigenotoxic effect of allicin against methyl methanesulphonate induced genotoxic damage. J Environ Biol. 2005 Jul;26(3):547-50.

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