Chemicals Found In Brassica Genus Vegetables Prevent Colon Cancer

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Researchers from the Francis Crick Institute suggest that consuming kale, cabbage and broccoli prevents colon cancer

A research published in the journal Immunity on August 14, 2018 by researchers from the Francis Crick Institute reported, kale, cabbage and broccoli contain chemicals that help to maintain a healthy gut and prevent colon cancer. The researchers fed lab mice on a diet rich in indole-3-carbinol found in vegetables of Brassica genus, some of which are kale, cabbage and broccoli. Although these vegetables are known for several health benefits, the mice study found additional evidence of the vegetables’ ability to prevent colon cancer by to maintain a healthy gut. The team identified indole-3-carbinol in the diet of the mice that was responsible for preventing colon inflammation and cancer. The indole-3-carbinol does this by activating a protein called the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). The receptor is a ligand-activated transcription factor that passes signals to immune cells and epithelial cells in the gut lining. These signals restrict inflammatory responses of bacteria that live in the gut.

The researchers genetically modified mice models that cannot produce or activate AhR in their guts. The inability to produce the receptor led to gut inflammation that eventually progressed to colon cancer. However, no development in inflammation or cancer was evident in the mice when the animal was fed with enriched with indole-3-carbinol.Moreover, when cancerous mice fed with indole-3-carbinol, reduction in tumors was observed. Analysis of gut organoids in mice revealed that AhR plays important role in repairing damaged epithelial cells and the presence of AhR, intestinal stem cells lose the ability to differentiate into specialized epithelial cells that absorb nutrients. Absence of AhR led to uncontrollable division of epithelial cells, which can ultimately lead to colon cancer. The researchers are focusing on studying the effect of indole-3-carbinol on organoids made from human gut biopsies.

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