Dietary broccoli mildly improves neuroinflammation in aged mice but does not reduce lipopolysaccharide-induced sickness behavior

Brigitte E. Townsend, Yung Ju Chen, Elizabeth H. Jeffery, Rodney W. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aging is associated with oxidative stress and heightened inflammatory response to infection. Dietary interventions to reduce these changes are therefore desirable. Broccoli contains glucoraphanin, which is converted to sulforaphane (SFN) by plant myrosinase during cooking preparation or digestion. Sulforaphane increases antioxidant enzymes including NAD(P)H quinone oxidoreductase and heme oxygenase I and inhibits inflammatory cytokines. We hypothesized that dietary broccoli would support an antioxidant response in brain and periphery of aged mice and inhibit lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced inflammation and sickness. Young adult and aged mice were fed control or 10% broccoli diet for 28 days before an intraperitoneal LPS injection. Social interactions were assessed 2, 4, 8, and 24 hours after LPS, and mRNA was quantified in liver and brain at 24 hours. Dietary broccoli did not ameliorate LPS-induced decrease in social interactions in young or aged mice. Interleukin-1β (IL-1β) expression was unaffected by broccoli consumption but was induced by LPS in brain and liver of adult and aged mice. In addition, IL-1β was elevated in brain of aged mice without LPS. Broccoli consumption decreased age-elevated cytochrome b-245 β, an oxidative stress marker, and reduced glial activation markers in aged mice. Collectively, these data suggest that 10% broccoli diet provides a modest reduction in age-related oxidative stress and glial reactivity, but is insufficient to inhibit LPS-induced inflammation. Thus, it is likely that SFN would need to be provided in supplement form to control the inflammatory response to LPS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)990-999
Number of pages10
JournalNutrition Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2014


  • Aging
  • BALB/c mice
  • Broccoli
  • Inflammation
  • LPS
  • Sulforaphane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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