Colorectal cancer is an increasingly significant cause of mortality whose risk is linked to diet and inversely correlated with cruciferous vegetable consumption. This is likely to be partly attributable to the isothiocyanates derived from eating these vegetables, such as sulforaphane, which is extensively characterised for cytoprotective and tumour-suppressing activities. However, its bioactivities are likely to extend in complexity beyond those currently known; further insight into these bioactivities could aid the development of sulforaphane-based chemopreventive or chemotherapeutic strategies. Evidence suggests that sulforaphane modulates the expression of microRNAs, many of which are known to regulate genes involved at various stages of colorectal carcinogenesis. Based upon existing knowledge, there exist many plausible mechanisms by which sulforaphane may regulate microRNAs. Thus, there is a strong case for the further investigation of the roles of microRNAs in the anti-cancer effects of sulforaphane. There are several different types of approach to the wide-scale profiling of microRNA differential expression. Array-based methods may involve the use of RT-qPCR or complementary hybridisation probe chips, and tend to be relatively fast and economical. Cloning and deep sequencing approaches are more expensive and labour-intensive, but are worth considering where viable, for their greater sensitivity and ability to detect novel microRNAs.
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