Anti-cancer activities of allyl isothiocyanate and its conjugated silicon quantum dots

Peng Liu, Mehrnaz Behray, Qi Wang, Wei Wang, Zhigang Zhou, Yimin Chao, Yongping Bao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Allyl isothiocyanate (AITC), a dietary phytochemical in some cruciferous vegetables, exhibits promising anticancer activities in many cancer models. However, previous data showed AITC to have a biphasic effect on cell viability, DNA damage and migration in human hepatoma HepG2 cells. Moreover, in a 3D co-culture of HUVEC with pericytes, it inhibited tube formation at high doses but promoted this at low doses, which confirmed its biphasic effect on angiogenesis. siRNA knockdown of Nrf2 and glutathione inhibition abolished the stimulation effect of AITC on cell migration and DNA damage. The biological activity of a novel AITC-conjugated silicon quantum dots (AITC-SiQDs) has been investigated for the first time. AITC-SiQDs showed similar anti-cancer properties to AITC at high doses while avoiding the low doses stimulation effect. In addition, AITC-SiQDs showed a lower and long-lasting activation of Nrf2 translocation into nucleus which correlated with their levels of cellular uptake, as detected by the intrinsic fluorescence of SiQDs. ROS production could be one of the mechanisms behind the anti-cancer effect of AITC-SiQDs. These data provide novel insights into the biphasic effect of AITC and highlight the application of nanotechnology to optimize the therapeutic potential of dietary isothiocyanates in cancer treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1084
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2018


  • Ally isothiocynate
  • silicon quantum dots
  • Nrf2
  • hormesis
  • Nanomedicine

Cite this