The dietary isothiocyanate L-sulforaphane (LSF), derived from cruciferous vegetables, is reported to have several beneficial biological properties, including anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects. However, there is limited data on how LSF modulates these effects in human immune cells. The present study was designed to investigate the immunomodulatory effects of LSF (10 µM and 50 µM) on peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) populations and cytokine secretion in healthy adult volunteers (n
= 14), in the presence or absence of bacterial (lipopolysaccharide) and viral (imiquimod) toll-like receptor (TLRs) stimulations. Here, we found that LSF reduced pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-6, IL-1β, and chemokines monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1 irrespective of TLR stimulations. This result was associated with LSF significantly reducing the proportion of natural killer (NK) cells and monocytes while increasing the proportions of dendritic cells (DCs), T cells and B cells. We found a novel effect of LSF in relation to reducing cluster of differentiation (CD) 14+
monocytes while simultaneously increasing monocyte-derived DCs (moDCs: lineage-Human Leukocyte Antigen-DR isotype (HLA-DR)+
). LSF was also shown to induce a 3.9-fold increase in the antioxidant response element (ARE) activity in a human monocyte cell line (THP-1). Our results provide important insights into the immunomodulatory effects of LSF, showing in human PBMCs an ability to drive differentiation of monocytes towards an immature monocyte-derived dendritic cell phenotype with potentially important biological functions. These findings provide insights into the potential role of LSF as a novel immunomodulatory drug candidate and supports the need for further preclinical and phase I clinical studies.
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