As part of her master’s of science thesis in 2022, Johanna Holman reviewed hundreds of journal articles on anti-inflammatory, health-promoting dietary compounds in broccoli and other vegetables or fruits, and how microbes in the digestive tract can transform inactive precursors from foods into those beneficial compounds.
This is part of a broader research collaboration on how glucoraphanin in broccoli sprouts can be made into sulforaphane, which acts as an anti-inflammatory in humans (work that has been funded by the Allen Foundation). Humans are unable to convert glucoraphanin to sulforaphane, and a small amount of this occurs naturally thanks to enzymes in the broccoli sprouts. But, certain gut microbes can make the conversion and this has helped resolve colitis and other symptoms in mice in laboratory trials (manuscripts in review, work that has been funded by the NIH).
Interplay of Broccoli/Broccoli Sprout Bioactives with Gut Microbiota in Reducing Inflammation in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.
Holman, J., Hurd, M., Moses, P., Mawe, G., Zhang, T., Ishaq, S.L., Li, Y. 2022. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 113: 109238.
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) are chronic, reoccurring, and debilitating conditions characterized by inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, some of which can lead to more systemic complications and can include autoimmune dysfunction, a change in the taxonomic and functional structure of microbial communities in the gut, and complicated burdens in a person’s daily life. Like many diseases based in chronic inflammation, research on IBD has pointed towards a multifactorial origin involving factors of the person’s lifestyle, immune system, associated microbial communities, and environmental conditions. Treatment currently exists only as palliative care, and seeks to disrupt the feedback loop of symptoms by reducing inflammation and allowing as much of a return to homeostasis as possible. Various anti-inflammatory options have been explored, and this review focuses on the use of diet as an alternative means of improving gut health. Specifically, we highlight the connection between the role of sulforaphane from cruciferous vegetables in regulating inflammation and in modifying microbial communities, and to break down the role they play in IBD.
Acknowledgements: The authors would like to thank Brigitte Lavoie (University of Vermont) and Grace Chen (University of Michigan), as well as undergraduate researchers Dorien Baudewyns (Husson University), Louisa Colucci (Husson University), and Joe Balkan (Tufts University), for their work on the laboratory research which forms the broader collaboration that led to the generation of this review. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript. This project was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Hatch Project Numbers ME0-22102 (Ishaq) and ME0-22303 (Li) through the Maine Agricultural & Forest Experiment Station, and USDA-NIFA-AFRI Foundational Program [Grant No. 2018-67017-27520]. It was also supported by NIH grant NOA R21AT011203 (Mawe).
Conflict of Interest: The authors declare no conflicts of interest.