It has been reported that p.o. administration of diallyl sulfide (DAS), a naturally occurring component of garlic (Allium sativum), inhibits 1,2-dimethylhydrazine-induced colon and liver cancer in rodents. A possible mechanism for this protective effect is inhibition of hepatic activation of the procarcinogen. The effect of DAS on P450IIE1, an isozyme of cytochrome P-450 which is active in the oxidative metabolism of dimethylhydrazine, was conveniently assayed in the present study by determination of N-dimethylnitrosamine demethylase (NDMAd) activity at 1 mmN-dimethylnitrosamine in Sprague-Dawley rat liver microsomal incubations. DAS was found to be a competitive inhibitor of NDMAd, in contrast to the irreversible inactivation of NDMAd produced by carbon tetrachloride incubated under similar conditions. The inhibition by DAS of the demethylation of several substrates was selective. The thioether was most potent against N-dimethylnitrosamine, less effective against N-nitrosomethylbenzylamine, and essentially ineffective against benzphetamine and ethylmorphine. Microsomes prepared at 3 h after DAS administration (200 mg/kg in corn oil intragastrically) showed moderate inhibition (<30% inhibition compared to control microsomes) of several demethylase activities; however, microsomes prepared 18 h posttreatment showed a marked decrease (about 80% inhibition compared to controls) in NDMAd activity, minor effects on other demethylase activities, and a 6-fold increase in pentoxyresorufin dealkylation. These trends at 18 h agreed with immunoblot analyses which showed suppression in the level of P450IIE1 and an elevation in P450IIB1. The selective inhibition of P450IIE1 activity and suppression of its level in microsomes may contribute to the reported chemoprotective effects of DAS.


Supported by NIH Grants ES-03938 and CA-37137.

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