Eating broccoli sprouts may help diabetes patients manage their blood sugar, according to a new study which offers a much needed alternative to address the worldwide epidemic.
Type 2 diabetes affects more than 300 million people globally, and as many as 15 per cent of those patients cannot take the first-line therapy metformin because of kidney damage risks. Seeking a more viable path forward, researchers identified compounds that might counter the disease — associated gene expression changes associated with type 2 diabetes.The researchers, including Annika Axelsson of Lund University in Sweden, constructed a signature for type 2 diabetes based on 50 genes, then used data sets to screen 3,852 compounds for drugs that potentially reverse disease.
The most promising chemical — sulforaphane, a naturally occurring compound found in cruciferous vegetables — tamped down glucose production by liver cells growing in culture, and shifted liver gene expression away from a diseased state in diabetic rats.
When the researchers gave concentrated broccoli sprout extracts to 97 human type 2 diabetes patients in a 12-week randomised placebo-controlled trial, obese participants who entered the study with dysregulated disease demonstrated significantly decreased fasting blood glucose levels compared to controls. The researchers said that developing gene signatures to investigate large public repositories of gene expression data could be a valuable strategy to rapidly identify clinically relevant compounds.