Sulforaphane, a phytochemical in broccoli sprouts, ameliorates obesity

March 7, 2017, Kanazawa University
The two functions of sulforaphane uncovered by the current study are; 1) ameliorating obesity by adipose tissue browning to augment energy consumption and 2) improving 'high-fat' gut bacterial flora and metabolic endotoxemia. The new functions of sulforaphane are expected to contribute to improvement of inflammation and insulin resistance so as to prevent lifestyle diseases. Credit: Kanazawa University

Sulforaphane, a phytochemical contained in broccoli sprouts at relatively high concentrations, has been known to exert effects of cancer prevention by activating a transcription factor, Nrf2 (nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2), which regulates the balance of oxidation/reduction in the cell, and by enhancing the anti-oxidation ability of the body and detoxication of chemical compounds. On the other hand, when the balance of oxidation/reduction is deteriorated due to obesity, it has been known to lead to pathogenesis of various diseases. The effects of sulforaphane on obesity were, however, unclear.

In the current study, the researchers of Kanazawa University in collaboration with the researchers of Kagome Co., Ltd. compared the body weight of mice fed with supplemented with sulforaphane and others with high-fat food but without sulforaphane. The researchers found that the mice fed with sulforaphane exhibited weight gain rate 15 percent lower than the mice fed without sulforaphane, 20 percent visceral fat reduction, and reduction of augmentation of their hepatic steatosis and .

Left: Mice fed with high fat food + sulforaphane (HF+SFN) showed reduced body weight gain in comparison with mice fed with high fat food only (HF). Right: CT images revealed that HF+SFN mice had less visceral fat than HF mice upon examination of visceral fat and subcutaneous fat. Credit: Kanazawa University

Further research has revealed the following: (1) Sulforaphane augments the level of uncoupling protein-1 (UCP-1) and accelerates adipose tissue browning, which induces augmentation of and fat burning; (2) Sulforaphane decreases relative abundance of bacterial family Desulfobivrionaceae in the gut, which overproduces LPS, thus decreasing the endotoxin level in the blood to ameliorate metabolic endotoxemia.

From these results, two new functions of sulforaphane have been uncovered: (1) ameliorating obesity by browning of adipocytes to augment energy consumption and (2) improving 'obese' gut bacterial flora caused by high-fat diet and metabolic endotoxemia.

On the other hand, since Nrf2-knockout mice fed with high-fat food supplemented with sulforaphane did not show reduced body weight increase or through adipose tissue browning, the importance of Nrf2 is now clearly shown as the target molecule of sulforaphane for ameliorating obesity.

The two functions of sulforaphane newly uncovered by the current study are expected to contribute to improvement of inflammation of the liver or adipose tissues and insulin resistance as well as to prevention of lifestyle diseases. Through future clinical studies, could be recommended as a supplementary diet product for ameliorating bacterial flora in the gut, after evaluation of its obesity prevention effects, its effectiveness for inflammation and , as well as its safety.

Explore further: Beyond prevention: Sulforaphane may find possible use for cancer therapy

More information: Naoto Nagata et al, Glucoraphanin Ameliorates Obesity and Insulin Resistance Through Adipose Tissue Browning and Reduction of Metabolic Endotoxemia in Mice, Diabetes (2017). DOI: 10.2337/db16-0662

Related Stories

Beyond prevention: Sulforaphane may find possible use for cancer therapy

January 12, 2015
New research has identified one of the key cancer-fighting mechanisms for sulforaphane, and suggests that this much-studied phytochemical may be able to move beyond cancer prevention and toward therapeutic use for advanced ...

Study confirms safety, cancer-targeting ability of nutrient in broccoli, other vegetables

June 9, 2011
Sulforaphane, one of the primary phytochemicals in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables that helps them prevent cancer, has been shown for the first time to selectively target and kill cancer cells while leaving normal ...

Steaming broccoli preserves potential power to fight cancer, study finds

November 8, 2013
(HealthDay)—The way you prepare broccoli and related vegetables can alter their potentially cancer-fighting powers, new research shows.

Recommended for you

Gene mutation found to cause macrocephaly and intellectual deficits

November 13, 2018
The absence of one copy of a single gene in the brain causes a rare, as-yet-unnamed neurological disorder, according to new research that builds on decades of work by a University at Buffalo biochemist and his colleagues.

Can scientists change mucus to make it easier to clear, limiting harm to lungs?

November 12, 2018
For healthy people, mucus is our friend. It traps potential pathogens so our airways can dispatch nasty bugs before they cause harm to our lungs. But for people with conditions such as cystic fibrosis (CF) and chronic obstructive ...

Mutations, CRISPR, and the biology behind movement disorders

November 12, 2018
Scientists at the RIKEN Center for Brain Science (CBS) in Japan have discovered how mutations related to a group of movement disorders produce their effects. Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the ...

Researchers explain how your muscles form

November 12, 2018
All vertebrates need muscles to function; they are the most abundant tissue in the human body and are integral to movement.

Salmonella found to be resistant to different classes of antibiotics

November 12, 2018
Brazil's Ministry of Health received reports of 11,524 outbreaks of foodborne diseases between 2000 and 2015, with 219,909 individuals falling sick and 167 dying from such diseases. Bacteria caused most outbreaks of such ...

High fat diet has lasting effects on the liver

November 9, 2018
Consuming a high-fat, high-sugar diet causes a harmful accumulation of fat in the liver that may not reverse even after switching to a healthier diet, according to a new study by scientists from Weill Cornell Medicine and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.