Consumption of broccoli sprouts during late gestation and lactation confers protection against developmental delay induced by maternal inflammation

Behav Brain Res. 2016 Jul 1;307:239-49. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2016.03.017. Epub 2016 Mar 31.


Background: The presence of a fetal inflammatory response is linked to cerebral palsy. Unfortunately no preventive therapies are available. In this study, we determined whether dietary supplementation with broccoli sprouts (BrSp), a phase-II enzyme inducer, would be effective in preventing the behavioural and pathologic manifestations in a rodent model of inflammation during late pregnancy.

Methods: Pregnant Long-Evans rats were administered i.p. Injections of saline (100μl) or lipopolysaccharide (LPS, 200μg/kg), every 12h on embryonic day (E) 19 and 20. In the treatment groups, dams were supplemented with 200mg/day of dried BrSp from E14 until postnatal day 21. Pups underwent a series of neurodevelopmental reflex tests from postnatal day 3-21 followed by neuropathological analyses.

Results: Pups born from the LPS group were significantly growth restricted (p<0.001) and delayed in hindlimb placing (p<0.05), cliff avoidance (p<0.05), and gait (p<0.001) compared to controls. In the open field behaviour analyses, LPS pups had an increase in grooming behaviour (p<0.05) and a decreased amount of time spent in the center of the box compared to controls. Dietary supplementation with BrSp to offspring exposed to LPS had increased birth weights (p<0.001), were no longer delayed in acquiring hindlimb placing, cliff avoidance, gait, and posture, and groomed less compared to LPS alone pups (p<0.01). Histological analyses revealed that LPS pups had reduced myelin basic protein compared to controls.

Conclusions: Our data suggest that BrSp dietary supplementation during pregnancy may be effective in preventing growth restriction and neurodevelopmental delays.

Keywords: Broccoli sprouts; Developmental delay; Maternal inflammation; Prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Body Temperature
  • Brassica / metabolism*
  • Developmental Disabilities / etiology*
  • Developmental Disabilities / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Encephalitis* / chemically induced
  • Encephalitis* / complications
  • Encephalitis* / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Hand Strength / physiology
  • Lactation / drug effects
  • Lipopolysaccharides / toxicity
  • Litter Size / drug effects
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects* / chemically induced
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects* / diet therapy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects* / physiopathology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Reflex, Startle


  • Lipopolysaccharides