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Open AccessReview

Allicin: Chemistry and Biological Properties

1
Department of Plant Physiology, RWTH Aachen University, 52056 Aachen, Germany
2
Department of Human Nutritional Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB R3T2N2, Canada
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Molecules 2014, 19(8), 12591-12618; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules190812591
Received: 23 June 2014 / Revised: 24 July 2014 / Accepted: 28 July 2014 / Published: 19 August 2014
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
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Borlinghaus, J.; Albrecht, F.; Gruhlke, M.C.H.; Nwachukwu, I.D.; Slusarenko, A.J. Allicin: Chemistry and Biological Properties. Molecules 2014, 19, 12591-12618.

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