Allicin stimulates lymphocytes and elicits an antitumor effect: A possible role of p21ras

Miriam Patya, Muayad A. Zahalka, Alexey Vanichkin, Aharon Rabinkov, Talia Miron, David Mirelman, Meir Wilchek, Harry M. Lander, Abraham Novogrodsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Allicin, the main organic allyl sulfur component in garlic, exhibits immune-stimulatory and antitumor properties. Allicin stimulated [3H]thymidine incorporation in mouse splenocytes and enhanced cell-mediated cytotoxicity in human peripheral mononuclear cells. Multiple administration (i.p.) of allicin elicited a marked antitumor effect in mice inoculated with B-16 melanoma and MCA-105 fibrosarcoma. The immune-stimulatory and antitumor effects of allicin are characterized by a bell-shaped curve, i.e. allicin at high, supra-optimal concentrations is less effective or inhibitory. Allicin induced activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) in human peripheral mononuclear cells, and also in wild-type Jurkat T-cells. Allicin failed to activate ERK1/2 in Jurkat T cells that express p21ras, in which Cys118 was replaced by Ser. These cells are not susceptible to redox-stress modification and activation. We postulate that the immune stimulatory effect of allicin is mediated by redox-sensitive signaling such as activation of p21ras. It is suggested that the antitumor effect of allicin is related to its immune-stimulatory properties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-281
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004


  • Cancer immunotherapy
  • Extracellular signal-regulated kinase
  • Free radical
  • p21


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