Broccoli consumption brings many health benefits, including reducing the risk of cancer and inflammatory diseases. The objectives of this study were to identify global alterations in the cecal microbiota composition using 16S rRNA sequencing analysis and glucoraphanin (GRP) hydrolysis to isothiocyanates ex vivo by the cecal microbiota, following different broccoli diets. Rats were randomized to consume AIN93G (control) or different broccoli diets; AIN93G plus cooked broccoli, a GRP-rich powder, raw broccoli, or myrosinase-treated cooked broccoli. Feeding raw or cooked broccoli for four days or longer both changed the cecal microbiota composition and caused a greater production of isothiocyanates ex vivo. A more than two-fold increase in NAD(P)H: quinone oxidoreductase 1 activity of the host colon mucosa after feeding cooked broccoli for seven days confirmed the positive health benefits. Further studies revealed that dietary GRP was specifically responsible for the increased microbial GRP hydrolysis ex vivo, whereas changes in the cecal microbial communities were attributed to other broccoli components. Interestingly, a three-day withdrawal from a raw broccoli diet reversed the increased microbial GRP hydrolysis ex vivo. Findings suggest that enhanced conversion of GRP to bioactive isothiocyanates by the cecal microbiota requires four or more days of broccoli consumption and is reversible.
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