Isothiocyanates are a family of biologically active phytochemicals found naturally in cruciferous plants. They have been investigated for their antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects. They have also shown activity against neurodegenerative diseases. Recently, their properties as antibacterial agents were investigated by Nowicki, et al.
Mechanisms for two isothiocyanates, sulforaphane and phenethyl isothiocyanate, were studied in multiple strains of bacteria. These strains included clinical isolates of E. coli, K. pneumoniae, S. aureus, S. epidermidis, and E. faecalis. In strains where growth inhibition by isothiocyanates is independent of (p)ppGpp production, the inhibition of nucleic acid synthesis and cell viability may be due to a drop in GTP levels. In strains which do not produce (p)ppGpp upon treatment such as B. subtilis, the isothiocyanates compromise the integrity of the cytoplasmic membrane. They concluded that isothiocyanates likely have more than one target in bacterial cells, and that the mechanisms of action may be species-specific. Although the mechanisms change the resulting inhibition of bacterial growth is the same across multiple strains.
LKT Labs offers a wide variety of isothiocyanate molecules for research use.
Nowicki D., Maciag-Dorszynska M. et al. Various modes of action of dietary phytochemicals, sulforaphane and phenethyl isothiocyanate, on pathogenic bacteria. Sci Rep. 9(1):13677 (2019). doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-50216-x.