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Department of Plant Physiology, RWTH Aachen University, 52056 Aachen, Germany


Department of Human Nutritional Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB R3T2N2, Canada


Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.

Abstract Allicin diallylthiosulfinate is a defence molecule from garlic Allium sativum L. with a broad range of biological activities. Allicin is produced upon tissue damage from the non-proteinogenic amino acid alliin S-allylcysteine sulfoxide in a reaction that is catalyzed by the enzyme alliinase. Current understanding of the allicin biosynthetic pathway will be presented in this review. Being a thiosulfinate, allicin is a reactive sulfur species RSS and undergoes a redox-reaction with thiol groups in glutathione and proteins that is thought to be essential for its biological activity. Allicin is physiologically active in microbial, plant and mammalian cells. In a dose-dependent manner allicin can inhibit the proliferation of both bacteria and fungi or kill cells outright, including antibiotic-resistant strains like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus MRSA. Furthermore, in mammalian cell lines, including cancer cells, allicin induces cell-death and inhibits cell proliferation. In plants allicin inhibits seed germination and attenuates root-development. The majority of allicin’s effects are believed to be mediated via redox-dependent mechanisms. In sub-lethal concentrations, allicin has a variety of health-promoting properties, for example cholesterol- and blood pressure-lowering effects that are advantageous for the cardio-vascular system. Clearly, allicin has wide-ranging and interesting applications in medicine and green agriculture, hence the detailed discussion of its enormous potential in this review. Taken together, allicin is a fascinating biologically active compound whose properties are a direct consequence of the molecule’s chemistry. View Full-Text

Keywords: garlic Allium sativum; reactive sulfur species; apoptosis; redox; antimicrobial; cancer; root growth garlic Allium sativum; reactive sulfur species; apoptosis; redox; antimicrobial; cancer; root growth

Author: Jan Borlinghaus 1, Frank Albrecht 1, Martin C. H. Gruhlke 1, Ifeanyi D. Nwachukwu 2 and Alan J. Slusarenko 1,*



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