Sulforaphane attenuates hepatic fibrosis via NF-E2-related factor 2-mediated inhibition of transforming growth factor-β/Smad signaling

Chang Joo Oh, Joon Young Kim, Ae Kyung Min, Keun Gyu Park, Robert A. Harris, Han Jong Kim, In Kyu Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

86 Scopus citations


Sulforaphane (SFN) is a dietary isothiocyanate that exerts chemopreventive effects via NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)-mediated induction of antioxidant/phase II enzymes, such as heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) and NAD(P)H quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1). This work was undertaken to evaluate the effects of SFN on hepatic fibrosis and profibrotic transforming growth factor (TGF)-β/Smad signaling, which are closely associated with oxidative stress. SFN suppressed TGF-β-enhanced expression of α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), a marker of hepatic stellate cell (HSC) activation, and profibrogenic genes such as type I collagen, fibronectin, tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase (TIMP)-1, and plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI)-1 in hTERT, an immortalized human HSC line. SFN inhibited TGF-β-stimulated activity of a PAI-1 promoter construct and (CAGA) 9 MLP-Luc, an artificial Smad3/4-specific reporter, in addition to reducing phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of Smad3. Nrf2 overexpression was sufficient to inhibit the TGF-β/Smad signaling and PAI-1 expression. Conversely, knockdown of Nrf2, but not inhibition of HO-1 or NQO1 activity, significantly abolished the inhibitory effect of SFN on (CAGA) 9 MLP-Luc activity. However, inhibition of NQO1 activity reversed repression of TGF-β- stimulated expression of type I collagen by SFN, suggesting the involvement of antioxidant activity of SFN in the suppression of Smad-independent fibrogenic gene expression. Finally, SFN treatment attenuated the development and progression of early stage hepatic fibrosis induced by bile duct ligation in mice, accompanied by reduced expression of type I collagen and α-SMA. Collectively, these results show that SFN elicits an antifibrotic effect on hepatic fibrosis through Nrf2-mediated inhibition of the TGF-β/Smad signaling and subsequent suppression of HSC activation and fibrogenic gene expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)671-682
Number of pages12
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012


  • Antioxidant genes
  • Free radicals
  • Hepatic fibrosis
  • Nrf2
  • Sulforaphane
  • TGF-β/Smad signaling pathway

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)

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