Broccoli sprout beverage is safe for thyroid hormonal and autoimmune status: Results of a 12-week randomized trial

Food Chem Toxicol. 2019 Apr;126:1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2019.02.004. Epub 2019 Feb 5.


Sulforaphane is a redox-active natural product present in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. Broccoli sprout-derived products are promising agents for the prevention of oxidative stress-related diseases, but some have long been suspected of thyroidal toxicity. Recent findings also raise the possibility that long-term exposure to sulforaphane, or to other natural substances or drugs that modulate the activity of the transcription factor Nrf2 (NFE2-related factor 2) may lead to thyroid dysfunction or thyroid autoimmune disease, questioning the safety of trials with sulforaphane-containing products. Previous studies addressing possible effects of sulforaphane-related compounds from natural product extracts on the thyroid were quite short and/or inconsistent. To investigate whether long-term exposure to a beverage enriched with sulforaphane and its precursor glucoraphanin may affect thyroid function, we analyzed biochemical measures of thyroid function and thyroid autoimmunity in 45 female participants in a randomized clinical trial at baseline and after 84 days of beverage administration. Serum levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone, free thyroxine and thyroglobulin were not affected by the treatment, and neither was the thyroid autoimmunity status of participants. These results provide evidence in favor of the safety of chemoprevention strategies that target the activation of Nrf2 to protect against environmental exposures and other oxidative stress-related pathologies.

Keywords: Broccoli sprout beverage; Clinical trial; Glucoraphanin; Nrf2; Sulforaphane; Thyroid.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Autoimmunity*
  • Brassica / chemistry
  • Brassica / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fruit and Vegetable Juices / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Isothiocyanates / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / genetics
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / metabolism*
  • Plant Preparations / chemistry
  • Plant Preparations / metabolism
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thyroid Gland / metabolism*
  • Thyrotropin / metabolism
  • Triiodothyronine / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • Isothiocyanates
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • NFE2L2 protein, human
  • Plant Preparations
  • Triiodothyronine
  • Thyrotropin
  • sulforafan