Sulforaphane from broccoli a myostatin blocker

Cara Marshall

An Italian study from 2012 shows that broccoli, cauliflower and other brassica vegetables support the growth and maintenance of muscle mass thanks to the protection of stem cells, which turn into muscle cells. Sulforaphane is responsible for this protection.

In the same year, molecular scientists from the university in Bonn showed, that sulforaphane deactivates myostatin in satellite cells, so it seems to have anabolic properties.

Myostatin, also called the growth factor and differentiation GDF8, belongs to the transforming growth factors TGF-β. It’s a negative musculoskeletal growth regulator, which means, that it prevents the overgrowth of muscle tissue. It also inhibits the skeletal muscle regeneration by weakening the activation and lymphocyte cell proliferation (satellite cells) and the migration of macrophages and myoblasts to the site of injury.

Scientists from Bonn set porcine satellite cells on the sulforaphane in test tubes, using a concentration of 5, 10 and 15 micromoles and observed, that the lowest dosage of sulforaphane increases the lifespan of cells and decreased the lifespan of protein apoptosis, such as caspase-3 and caspase-9. This effect is the complete opposite to the one sulforaphane has on cancer cells (then sulforaphane decreases the lifespan of cancer cells and activates the apoptosis).

Sulforaphane dramatically decreased the production of myostatin in satellite cells. Scientists weren’t sure why that happens, they checked if sulforaphane didn’t increase follistatin, a protein that deactivates myostatin, but it turned out that that didn’t take place. Studies carried out on animal cells in vitro is only the first step in the studies about sulforaphane. However, scientists are really hopeful towards this:

This new found, pharmacological, biological activity of sulforaphane in satellite cells can allow a new approach to the weakening of the signalling myostatin pathway, both in treating diseases of human skeletal muscle and in the improvement of livestock production.

Studies confirm that the love bodybuilders and other athletes have for broccoli and cauliflower has its grounds, and those vegetables should be the permanent element of an athlete’s diet.

Interestingly, cruciferous vegetables actually don’t contain sulforaphane. They do, however, contain glucosinolates, compounds that in the shredding, and then the chewing process, transform into isothiocyanates such as sulforaphane.

Research: Sulforaphane causes a major epigenetic repression of myostatin in porcine satellite cells. Fan H, Zhang R, Tesfaye D, Tholen E, Looft C, Hölker M, Schellander K, Cinar MU. Epigenetics. 2012 Dec 1;7(12):1379-90. doi: 10.4161/epi.22609. Epub 2012 Oct 23. PMID: 23092945 (link).

Tags: broccoli, dietary supplements, miostatin, muscle, protein, sulforaphane, supplements

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Good article but the product needs to be standardized to the highly concentrated extract Sulforaphane Glucosinolate. “Broccoli Sprouts” alone wont cut it.

  2. Avatar

    I wonder when you talk about all these studies if you speak about raw veg or cooked one?
    When you say ‘ cruciferous vegetables actually don’t contain sulforaphane. They do, however, contain glucosinolates, compounds that in the shredding, and then the chewing process, transform into isothiocyanates such as sulforaphane.’ : is it understood as raw cruciferous veg or cooked one? and if cooked what type of cooking? because I read somewhere else that the type of cooking does not allow our body to process the product the same. Please clarify. Thaks

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