Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) leads to oxidative stress, calcium mobilization, glutamate toxicity, the release of proinflammatory factors, and depletion of reduced glutathione (GSH) at the site of injury. Induction of the Keap1/Nrf2/ARE pathway can alleviate neurotoxicity by protecting against GSH depletion, oxidation, intracellular calcium overload, mitochondrial dysfunction, and excitotoxicity. Sulforaphane (SF), an isothiocyanate derived from broccoli, is a potent naturally-occurring inducer of the Keap1/Nrf2/ARE pathway, leading to upregulation of genes encoding cytoprotective proteins such as NAD(P)H: quinone oxidoreductase 1, and GSH-regulatory enzymes. Additionally, SF can attenuate inflammation by inhibiting the nuclear factor-?B (NF-?B) pathway, and the enzymatic activity of the proinflammatory cytokine macrophage inhibitory factor (MIF). Our study examined systemic administration of SF in a rat model of contusion SCI, in an effort to utilize its indirect antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to decrease secondary injury. Two doses of SF (10 or 50 mg/kg) were administered at 10 min and 72 h after contusion SCI. SF (50 mg/kg) treatment resulted in both acute and long-term beneficial effects, including upregulation of the phase 2 antioxidant response at the injury site, decreased mRNA levels of inflammatory cytokines (i.e., MMP-9) in the injured spinal cord, inactivation of urinary MIF tautomerase activity, enhanced hindlimb locomotor function, and an increased number of serotonergic axons caudal to the lesion site. These findings demonstrate that SF provides neuroprotective effects in the spinal cord after injury, and could be a candidate for therapy of SCI.
Benedict, A. L., Mountney, A., Hurtado, A., Bryan, K. E., Schnaar, R. L., Dinkova-Kostova, A. T., & Talalay, P. (2012). Neuroprotective effects of sulforaphane after contusive spinal cord injury. Journal of Neurotrauma, 29(16), 2576-2586. https://doi.org/10.1089/neu.2012.2474