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Consumption of Broccoli Sprouts Attenuates Intracellular P38 Map Kinase and Reactive Oxygen Species Pro-Inflammatory Activation in Human Leukocytes: A Randomised- Controlled Trial

Dietary consumption of green vegetables has a protective association with reduction in cardiovascular diseases. The thiocyanate compound sulforaphane, which is obtained from green vegetables, induces antioxidant genes and can protect against pro-inflammatory cellular activation. Our objective was to investigate the influence of sulforaphane on leukocyte pro-inflammatory activation and assess the impact of a sulforaphane-rich diet on leukocyte activation in vivo. Healthy human volunteers were randomised to consume either broccoli sprout homogenates (BSH) rich in sulforaphane or alfalfa sprout homogenates (ASH) as controls in a double-blind crossover trial. Blood was sampled prior to and then at 1 h, 6 h and 24 h post-homogenate consumption and analysed by flow cytometry for intracellular markers of leukocyte activation, reactive oxygen species (ROS), p38 mitogen activated protein (MAP) kinase phosphorylation and p65 nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) phosphorylation. Plasma levels of sulforaphane were determined by LC-MS methods. Six participants were recruited into the study. Plasma concentrations of sulforaphane were 30 ng/ml at one hour following BSH and undetectable following ASH consumption. In the control ASH group, ROS activation and p38 MAP kinase phosphorylation were enhanced one hour following consumption. This increase was attenuated in the BSH group (ROS, p<0.02: p38, p<0.001 comparison between groups). We conclude that ingestion of sulforaphane-rich homogenate can protect against pro-inflammatory activation in circulating leukocytes by attenuation of constitutive ROS and p38 MAP kinase.


Bao AV Nguyen, Georgia McDonald, Francesca Fiorentino, Barnaby C Reeves, J Kwak, Suhkneung Pyo, Gianni D Angelini, Jon R Anderson, Gary Frost, Dorian O Haskard and Paul C Evans

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