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Dietary component kills bacterial cause of ulcers and stomach cancer

acter, making it more difficult to get rid of the infection, says Fahey.

Even though the pure compound kills helicobacter efficiently, it remains to be seen whether dietary sources of sulforaphane (broccoli or broccoli sprouts, for instance) have similar effects. If so, vegetables native or adapted to various regions could be used by local populations to reduce helicobacter infection, notes Fahey, who has compiled a list of vegetables that contain sulforaphane or related compounds.

"We've known for some time that sulforaphane had modest antibiotic activity," says Fahey, who is also affiliated with the Center for Human Nutrition at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "However, its potency against helicobacter, even those strains resistant to conventional antibiotics, was a pleasant surprise."

Sulforaphane was initially isolated from broccoli at Johns Hopkins because of its ability to protect cells against cancer by boosting their production of "phase 2" enzymes, a family of proteins that detoxify certain cancer-causing agents and damaging free radicals. However, the compound's antibiotic abilities are not well understood and are likely to occur through some other mechanism, says Fahey.

Sulforaphane can protect against chemically induced stomach cancer in mice, the research team also found, but more studies are needed to know whether it can do the same against helicobacter-induced stomach cancer and whether dietary sulforaphane, rather than pure sulforaphane, will do the trick.

The French group was led by Alain Lozniewski. Other authors on the report are Xavier Haristoy and Isabelle Scholtus of the French National Scientific Research Center; Patrick Dolan and Thomas Kensler of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and Katherine Stephenson and Paul Talalay of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

The experiments were funded by the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Foundation, the Barbara Lubin
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Contact: Joanna Downer
jdowner1@jhmi.edu
410-614-5105
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
27-May-2002


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