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Don't Age So Fast: Eat Your Broccoli

Mercola digs up the best research. Here we have a study on how broccoli (and other cruciferous vegetables) helps wake up the immune system even when it lags from old age. Specifically a chemical called sulphoraphane in cruciferous veggies switches on phase II antioxidant genes in certain immune cells. These genes code for enzymes that help the liver detox things and help the tissues stop inflammation. Super good for you. Eat your broccoli. And don't cook it too much.


Science Daily
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080306133919.htm

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(08)00148-6/abstract

Joseph Mercola
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/03/29/broccoli-boosts-aging-immune-systems.aspx

Some text from the JACI abstract:

Nrf2 activation by sulforaphane restores the age-related decrease of TH1 immunity: Role of dendritic cells

Hyon-Jeen Kim, PhD, Berenice Barajas, BS, Meiying Wang, MD, Andre E. Nel, MD, PhD
Received 14 September 2007; received in revised form 30 November 2007; accepted 11 January 2008. published online 06 March 2008.
Corrected Proof

Background

The decrease in cellular immunity with aging is of considerable public health importance. Recent studies suggest that the redox equilibrium of dendritic cells (DCs) is a key factor in maintaining protective cellular immunity and that a disturbance of this homeostatic mechanism could contribute to immune senescence.

Objectives

We sought (1) to elucidate the role of DC redox equilibrium in the decrease of contact hypersensitivity (CHS) and TH1 immunity during aging and (2) to determine how restoration of glutathione (GSH) levels by the Nrf2-mediated antioxidant defense pathway affects this decrease.

Methods

We assessed the effect of Nrf2 deficiency and boosting of GSH levels by the Nrf2 agonist sulforaphane or the thiol precursor N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) on the CHS response to contact antigens in old mice. We studied the effect of SFN and NAC on restoring TH1 immunity by treating DCs ex vivo before adoptive transfer and in vivo challenge.

Results

Aging was associated with a decreased CHS response that was accentuated by Nrf2 deficiency. Systemic SFN treatment reversed this decrease through Nrf2-mediated antioxidant enzyme expression and GSH synthesis. Adoptive transfer of DCs from old animals induced a weakened CHS response in recipient animals. Treatment of DCs from old animals with SFN or NAC ex vivo restored the in vivo challenge response.

Conclusion

SFN and NAC upregulate TH1 immunity in aging through a restoration of redox equilibrium.

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