Chronic placental insufficiency and subsequent intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) increase the risk of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy in the newborn by 40 fold. The latter, in turn, increases the risk of cerebral palsy and developmental disabilities. This study seeks to determine the effectiveness of broccoli sprouts (BrSp), a rich source of the isothiocyanate sulforaphane, as a neuroprotectant in a rat model of chronic placental insufficiency and IUGR. Placental insufficiency and IUGR was induced by bilateral uterine artery ligation (BUAL) on day E20 of gestation. Dams were fed standard chow or chow supplemented with 200mg of dried BrSp from E15 - postnatal day 14 (PD14). Controls received Sham surgery and the same dietary regime. Pups underwent neurologic reflex testing and open field testing, following which they were euthanized and their brains frozen for neuropathologic assessment. Compared to Sham, IUGR pups were delayed in attaining early reflexes and performed worse in the open field, both of which were significantly improved by maternal supplementation of BrSp (p<0.05). Neuropathology revealed diminished white matter, ventricular dilation, astrogliosis and reduction in hippocampal neurons in IUGR animals compared to Sham, whereas broccoli sprout supplementation improved outcome in all histological assessments (p<0.05). Maternal dietary supplementation with BrSp prevented the detrimental neurocognitive and neuropathologic effects of chronic intrauterine ischemia. These findings suggest a novel approach for prevention of cerebral palsy and/or developmental disabilities associated with placental insufficiency.
Keywords: Broccoli sprout; Cerebral palsy; Developmental delay; Intrauterine growth restriction; Preventative therapy.
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