Sulforaphane (SFN), an activator of NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), has been found to have an antifibrotic effect on liver and lung. However, its effects on dystrophic muscle fibrosis remain unknown. This work was undertaken to evaluate the effects of SFN-mediated activation of Nrf2 on dystrophic muscle fibrosis. Male mdx mice (age 3 mo) were treated with SFN by gavage (2 mg/kg body wt per day) for 3 mo. Experimental results demonstrated that SFN remarkably attenuated skeletal and cardiac muscle fibrosis as indicated by reduced Sirius Red staining and immunostaining of the extracellular matrix. Moreover, SFN significantly inhibited the transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β)/Smad signaling pathway and suppressed profibrogenic gene and protein expressions such as those of α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), fibronectin, collagen I, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), and tissue inhibitor metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1) in an Nrf2-dependent manner. Furthermore, SFN significantly decreased the expression of inflammatory cytokines CD45, TNF-α, and IL-6 in mdx mice. In conclusion, these results show that SFN can attenuate dystrophic muscle fibrosis by Nrf2-mediated inhibition of the TGF-β/Smad signaling pathway, which indicates that Nrf2 may represent a new target for dystrophic muscle fibrosis.
Keywords: Duchenne muscular dystrophy; Nrf2; TGF-β/Smad; fibrosis; sulforaphane.
Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society.