Sulforaphane improves cognitive function administered following traumatic brain injury

Neurosci Lett. 2009 Aug 28;460(2):103-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2009.04.028. Epub 2009 Apr 15.


Recent studies have shown that sulforaphane, a naturally occurring compound that is found in cruciferous vegetables, offers cellular protection in several models of brain injury. When administered following traumatic brain injury (TBI), sulforaphane has been demonstrated to attenuate blood-brain barrier permeability and reduce cerebral edema. These beneficial effects of sulforaphane have been shown to involve induction of a group of cytoprotective, Nrf2-driven genes, whose protein products include free radical scavenging and detoxifying enzymes. However, the influence of sulforaphane on post-injury cognitive deficits has not been examined. In this study, we examined if sulforaphane, when administered following cortical impact injury, can improve the performance of rats tested in hippocampal- and prefrontal cortex-dependent tasks. Our results indicate that sulforaphane treatment improves performance in the Morris water maze task (as indicated by decreased latencies during learning and platform localization during a probe trial) and reduces working memory dysfunction (tested using the delayed match-to-place task). These behavioral improvements were only observed when the treatment was initiated 1h, but not 6h, post-injury. These studies support the use of sulforaphane in the treatment of TBI, and extend the previously observed protective effects to include enhanced cognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aldehydes / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Brain Injuries / complications*
  • Brain Injuries / drug therapy
  • Brain Injuries / pathology
  • Cognition Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Isothiocyanates
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Space Perception / drug effects
  • Sulfoxides
  • Thiocyanates / pharmacology
  • Thiocyanates / therapeutic use*
  • Time Factors


  • Aldehydes
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Isothiocyanates
  • Sulfoxides
  • Thiocyanates
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase
  • sulforaphane
  • 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal