Isothiocyanates are detected in human synovial fluid following broccoli consumption and can affect the tissues of the knee joint

Rose Davidson, Sarah Gardner, Orla Jupp, Angela Bullough, Sue Butters, Laura Watts, Simon Donell, Maria Traka, Shikha Saha, Richard Mithen, Mandy Jeffers, Peter Clegg, Yongping Bao, Aedin Cassidy, Ian Clark

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Osteoarthritis is a major cause of disability and there is no current pharmaceutical treatment which can prevent the disease or slow its progression. Dietary advice or supplementation is clearly an attractive option since it has low toxicity and ease of implementation on a population level. We have previously demonstrated that sulforaphane, a dietary isothiocyanate derived from its glucosinolate precursor which is found in broccoli, can prevent cartilage destruction in cells, in in vitro and in vivo models of osteoarthritis. As the next phase of this research, we enrolled 40 patients with knee osteoarthritis undergoing total knee replacement into a proof-of-principle trial. Patients were randomised to either a low or high glucosinolate diet for 14 days prior to surgery. We detected ITCs in the synovial fluid of the high glucosinolate group, but not the low glucosinolate group. This was mirrored by an increase in ITCs and specifically sulforaphane in the plasma. Proteomic analysis of synovial fluid showed significantly distinct profiles between groups with 125 differentially expressed proteins. The functional consequence of this diet will now be tested in a clinical trial.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3398
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2017


  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sulforaphane
  • isothiocyanate
  • broccoli

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