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Broccoli’s Protective Effects on Kidney Health Linked to Genetics

A NEW STUDY has revealed that an individual’s genetics contributes to the benefits of a dietary compound on kidney health. These finding may be useful in tailoring interventions to prevent or treat kidney disease.

In a previous study, a research team led by Prof Thu H. Le, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York, USA, showed that individuals carrying a variant of the GSTM1 gene face a higher risk of experiencing kidney function decline. GSTM1 is an enzyme that plays a role in removing toxins from the body and combatting oxidative stress. However, many individuals carry a GSTM1 gene null variant that prevents the gene’s expression and therefore are unable to produce the enzyme.

In their latest study, the University of Rochester Medical Center researchers found that deletion of the gene in mice increases kidney injury in mice. However, supplementing the diet with broccoli powder, which is high in an antioxidant-activating compound, significantly decreased kidney injury in the GSTM1 negative mice, but not in normal mice with kidney disease. Dr Le added that: “We speculate that the GSTM1 enzyme may be involved in the breakdown of antioxidant-promoting compounds, and therefore deficiency in the enzyme may increase the bioavailability of protective compounds relevant in kidney disease.”

Evaluation of large clinical data revealed that high consumption of broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables was associated with a lower risk of kidney failure, especially in the participants that lacked the GSTM1 gene. According to Dr Le: “the study highlights diet-gene interactions in kidney disease and illustrates that response to the disease-modifying effect of diet is influenced by genetics. In the context of personalised and precision medicine, increased consumption of cruciferous vegetables may be protective, particularly in those lacking GSTM1 who are the most at risk for kidney disease progression.” This study suggests that by knowing an individual’s genetic information it will be possible to tailor an intervention to prevent or delay kidney disease progression among those who would respond.