Sulforaphane kills Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Ra and Mycobacterium smegmatis mc 2 155 through a reactive oxygen species dependent mechanism

J Microbiol. 2022 Sep 1. doi: 10.1007/s12275-022-2284-8. Online ahead of print.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) is a highly pathogenic intracellular pathogen that causes tuberculosis (TB), the leading cause of mortality from single infections. Redox homeostasis plays a very important role in the resistance of M. tuberculosis to antibiotic damage and various environmental stresses. The antioxidant sulforaphane (SFN) has been reported to exhibit anticancer activity and inhibit the growth of a variety of bacteria and fungi. Nonetheless, it remains unclear whether SFN exhibits anti-mycobacterial activity. Our results showed that the SFN against M. tuberculosis H37Ra exhibited bactericidal activity in a time and dose-dependent manner. The anti-tubercular activity of SFN was significantly correlated with bacterial reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels. In addition, SFN promoted the bactericidal effect of macrophages on intracellular bacteria in a dose-dependent manner, mediated by increasing intracellular mitochondrial ROS levels and decreasing cytoplasmic ROS levels. Taken together, our data revealed the previously unrecognized antimicrobial functions of SFN. Future studies focusing on the mechanism of SFN in macrophages against M. tuberculosis are essential for developing new host-directed therapeutic approaches against TB.

Keywords: Mycobacterium tuberculosis; ROS; macrophages; redox; sulforaphane.