2014 Volume 64 Issue 1 Pages 48-59
Unique secondary metabolites, glucosinolates (S-glucopyranosyl thiohydroximates), are naturally occurring S-linked glucosides found mainly in Brassicaceae plants. They are enzymatically hydrolyzed to produce sulfate ions, D-glucose, and characteristic degradation products such as isothiocyanates. The functions of glucosinolates in the plants remain unclear, but isothiocyanates possessing a pungent or irritating taste and odor might be associated with plant defense from microbes. Isothiocyanates have been studied extensively in experimental in vitro and in vivo carcinogenesis models for their cancer chemopreventive properties. The beneficial isothiocyanates, glucosinolates that are functional for supporting human health, have received attention from many scientists studying plant breeding, plant physiology, plant genetics, and food functionality. This review presents a summary of recent topics related with glucosinolates in the Brassica family, along with a summary of the chemicals, metabolism, and genes of glucosinolates in Brassicaceae. The bioavailabilities of isothiocyanates from certain functional glucosinolates and the importance of breeding will be described with emphasis on glucosinolates.