Broccoli extract backed in fight against diabetes

By Tim Cutcliffe

- Last updated on GMT

Broccoli extract backed in fight against diabetes

Related tags Diabetes mellitus

Sulphoraphane, from broccoli sprout extract, may help blood sugar management in diabetes, reveals a new study in Science Translational Medicine.

"Highly concentrated sulphoraphane administered as broccoli sprout extract (BSE) improves fasting glucose and HbA1c in obese patients with dysregulated T2D,” ​concluded the international research team, led by Annika Axelsson.

T2D is endemic among the overweight and obese and presents an increasing burden on budgets of health authorities globally. Many patients with advanced diabetes suffer from poor renal function, rendering Metformin, the first-line drug treatment, unsuitable for them due to risk of further kidney damage. 

The drug also causes gastrointestinal side effects, which are severe enough for 5-10% of patients to discontinue treatment.

“Finding additional treatment options to reduce exaggerated hepatic glucose production is therefore a high priority,”​ commented the team.

Sulphoraphane, found in cruciferous vegetables, is widely recognised to have anticancer properties. Up until now, its use in blood sugar control has only been demonstrated in animal studies.

Study details

Researchers used a genetic signature model to identify 50 genes that characterise T2D. Sulphoraphane was selected from nearly 4,000 compounds screened for their potential to reverse diabetes.

The 12-week human RCT, using (BSE), was a follow-up to successful in-vitro and animal studies.

“We have investigated the mechanism and sulphoraphane targets the critical disease process,”​ commented senior author Anders Rosengren.  

The team observed that, unlike Metformin, which works by increasing the liver’s insulin sensitivity, sulphoraphane directly reduces gluconeogenesis.

The trial results show promise for sulphoraphane to have “The potential to become an important complement to existing treatment options of T2D,​” enthuses Rosengren.

“Sulphoraphane has very few side effects and can easily be provided as a broccoli shot,”​ he adds.

Nevertheless, Rosengren acknowledges, “High doses of BSE cannot yet be recommended to patients as a drug treatment but would require further studies, including data on which groups of patients would potentially benefit most from it.”

He also suggests next steps may include “Work to make BSE available to patients as a functional food to improve blood glucose control​.”

Further research may involve examining BSE’s availability to control blood glucose in pre-diabetics and in T2D prevention. Animal studies also suggest protective effects of sulphoraphane against diabetic complications such as neuropathy and renal failure. These findings may prompt further investigation of similar benefits in humans.

Source: Science Translational Medicine
Volume 9, Issue 394, eaah4477, doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aah4477
“Sulforaphane reduces hepatic glucose production and improves glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes”
Authors: Annika S Axelsson, Anders Rosengren, et al




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