Posted on Jul 03, 2017, 2 a.m.
New research shows that sulforaphane, an antioxidant found in broccoli, may slow or even reverse type 2 diabetes.
A compound found in broccoli may slow or even reverse the progression of type 2 diabetes in overweight people. The study was published in the June 2017 issue of the Science Translational Medicine journal. The study was led by assistant professor Anders Rosengren and doctoral student Annika Axelsson, both from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
Researchers used laboratory experiments using animals, computational methods, and clinical trials with human subjects to complete their study.
During the laboratory portion of the study, the researchers analyzed liver tissue from diabetic mice. The mice were raised on a Western-style diet with a 42% fat and .15% cholesterol content. From the analysis, the team was able to identify 1,720 different genes that affected hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia is a condition characterized by high blood sugar levels. Further analysis allowed the researchers to narrow their focus on a set of 50 genes that linked together to raise blood sugar levels to form the type II diabetes disease signature.
The second phase of the study involved using a mathematical modeling program to rank known compounds for their ability to reverse the disease signature by reducing the genes’ ability to express themselves. Sulforaphane, a chemical compound found in cruciferous vegetables like Brussel sprouts and broccoli, ranked highest. The substance was able to successfully reduce glucose production in lab-grown cell groups. Tests were then completed using laboratory rodents. Despite being fed a high-fat, high-fructose diet, the rats who were given doses of Sulforaphane showed a marked improvement in glucose tolerance.
After the successful animal trials, researchers tested 97 human patients with type 2 diabetes. Participants took a daily dose of Sulforaphane, in the form of a powdered, concentrated broccoli sprout extract, for 12 weeks. Patients with normal weight were not affected by the compound. Obese participants saw a 10% decrease in fasting blood sugar by the end of the trial. That means patients were able to significantly reduce the risk of developing diabetes-related health complications without causing gastrointestinal problems or other side effects.
Possible Replacement for Metformin
Lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight, are the primary treatments for diabetes. However, many patients need the help of drug therapies to stabilize their blood sugar and insulin levels. Currently, the best treatment for type 2 diabetes is metformin. However, many overweight diabetes patients are unable to take this medication. Roughly 15% of those with diabetes also have reduced kidney function. Taking metformin could cause their bodies to retain lactic acid. This leads to lactic acidosis, a condition in that causes nausea, abdominal pain, shallow breathing, muscle pain and cramps, and fatigue. For those who are unable to take the standard treatment, Sulforaphane may be a viable alternative.
Researchers are currently developing a clinical study involving participants with prediabetes. They hope to use Sulforaphane to prevent these patients from developing type 2 diabetes.
Annika S. Axelsson et al. Sulforaphane reduces hepatic glucose production and improves glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes. Science Translational Medicine, 2017 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aah4477