Diet and lifestyle choices contribute to obesity and liver disease. Broccoli, a brassica vegetable, may mitigate negative effects of both diet and lifestyle. Currently, there are no clinically relevant, established molecular biomarkers that reflect variability in human absorption of brassica bioactives, which may be the cause of variability/inconsistencies in health benefits in the human population. Here, we focused on the plasma metabolite profile and composition of the gut microbiome in rats, a relatively homogenous population in terms of gut microbiota, genetics, sex and diet, to determine if changes in the plasma metabolite profiles caused by dietary broccoli relate to molecular changes in liver. Our aim was to identify plasma indicators that reflect how liver health is impacted by dietary broccoli. Rats were fed a 10% broccoli diet for 14 days. We examined the plasma metabolite composition by metabolomics analysis using GC–MS and gut microbiota using 16S sequencing after 0, 1, 2, 4, 7, 14 days of broccoli feeding. We identified 25 plasma metabolites that changed with broccoli consumption, including metabolites associated with hepatic glutathione synthesis, and with de novo fatty acid synthesis. Glutamine, stearic acid, and S-methyl-L-cysteine (SMC) relative abundance changes correlated with changes in gut bacteria previously implicated in metabolic disease and with validated increases in expression of hepatic NAD(P)H dehydrogenase [quinone] 1 (NQO1) and nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2), associated with elevated hepatic glutathione synthesis. Circulating biomarkers following broccoli consumption reflect gut–liver axis health.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2514
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • broccoli
  • metabolic
  • circulating markers
  • liver
  • Broccoli
  • Metabolic circulating markers
  • Liver

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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