Consumption of broccoli sprouts during late gestation and lactation confers protection against developmental delay induced by maternal inflammation

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The presence of a fetal inflammatory response is linked to cerebral palsy. Unfortunately no preventive therapies are available. In this study, we determined whether dietary supplementation with broccoli sprouts (BrSp), a phase-II enzyme inducer, would be effective in preventing the behavioural and pathologic manifestations in a rodent model of inflammation during late pregnancy.


Pregnant Long-Evans rats were administered i.p. Injections of saline (100 μl) or lipopolysaccharide (LPS, 200 μg/kg), every 12 h on embryonic day (E) 19 and 20. In the treatment groups, dams were supplemented with 200 mg/day of dried BrSp from E14 until postnatal day 21. Pups underwent a series of neurodevelopmental reflex tests from postnatal day 3–21 followed by neuropathological analyses.


Pups born from the LPS group were significantly growth restricted (p < 0.001) and delayed in hindlimb placing (p < 0.05), cliff avoidance (p < 0.05), and gait (p < 0.001) compared to controls. In the open field behaviour analyses, LPS pups had an increase in grooming behaviour (p < 0.05) and a decreased amount of time spent in the center of the box compared to controls. Dietary supplementation with BrSp to offspring exposed to LPS had increased birth weights (p < 0.001), were no longer delayed in acquiring hindlimb placing, cliff avoidance, gait, and posture, and groomed less compared to LPS alone pups (p < 0.01). Histological analyses revealed that LPS pups had reduced myelin basic protein compared to controls.


Our data suggest that BrSp dietary supplementation during pregnancy may be effective in preventing growth restriction and neurodevelopmental delays.

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