12 January - 20 June 2016

Broccoli could be key in the fight against osteoarthritis

11 Sept 13

A chemical found in broccoli, sulforaphane has been reported in previous studies to regulate signal pathways relevant to chronic diseases and it has been suggested that it may help stop the breakdown of cartilage. This study published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism by researchers from the University of East Anglia, the University of Oxford and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital investigated the impact of sulforaphane in chondrocytes, cells that produce and maintain proteins that form the structure of cartilage in mammals. It also looked at whether sulforaphane could block cartilage destruction in osteoarthritis. The study was a laboratory and animal study which used three models to study the possible effect of sulforaphane on cartilage. Researchers isolated chondrocytes from the cartilage of patients with osteoarthritis and cultured them in the laboratory. Some cells were treated with sulforaphane for 30 minutes, while some were untreated. The cells were then treated with cytokines which induce inflammation and normally increase the production of enzymes that break down cartilage. The level of enzyme produced in the sulforaphane-treated cells was compared to that of the untreated cells. Researchers also took cartilage tissue from cattle which was treated with sulforaphane or left untreated before adding cytokines and they investigated cartilage damage indicators in the treated and untreated samples. In the third model, two groups of mice were fed either a mouse diet plus sulforaphane or a normal mouse diet for a period of two weeks before and after a surgical procedure on one knee joint of each mouse to create osteoarthritis-type changes. Signs of cartilage damage and osteoarthritis were scored after two weeks. The results of the study showed that sulforaphane reduced the production of enzymes involved in cartilage damage in human cartilage cells treated with cytokines. Sulforaphane also reduced the damage to bovine cartilage and the mice who consumed a sulforaphane supplemented diet showed less arthritis-like cartilage damage compared to the control group. Researchers concluded that sulforaphane inhibits the production of key enzymes implicated in osteoarthritis and suggest that a diet rich in sulforaphane may slow down or prevent the progress of arthritis in humans. Further research is being planned to determine whether eating sulforaphane-rich broccoli by people with osteoarthritis has a beneficial effect on symptoms.

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