Induction of the nrf2 pathway by sulforaphane is neuroprotective in a rat temporal lobe epilepsy model

Sereen Sandouka, Tawfeeq Shekh-Ahmad*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Epilepsy is a chronic disease of the brain that affects over 65 million people worldwide. Acquired epilepsy is initiated by neurological insults, such as status epilepticus, which can result in the generation of ROS and induction of oxidative stress. Suppressing oxidative stress by upregulation of the transcription factor, nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) has been shown to be an effective strategy to increase endogenous antioxidant defences, including in brain diseases, and can ameliorate neuronal damage and seizure occurrence in epilepsy. Here, we aim to test the neuroprotective potential of a naturally occurring Nrf2 activator sulforaphane, in in vitro epileptiform activity model and a temporal lobe epilepsy rat model. Sulforaphane significantly decreased ROS generation during epileptiform activity, restored glutathione levels, and prevented seizure-like activity-induced neuronal cell death. When given to rats after 2 h of kainic acid-induced status epilepticus, sulforaphane significantly increased the expression of Nrf2 and related antioxidant genes, improved oxidative stress markers, and increased the total antioxidant capacity in both the plasma and hippocampus. In addition, sulforaphane significantly decreased status epilepticus-induced neuronal cell death. Our results demonstrate that Nrf2 activation following an insult to the brain exerts a neuroprotective effect by reducing neuronal death, increasing the antioxidant capacity, and thus may also modify epilepsy development.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number1702
Issue number11
StatePublished - 27 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Epilepsy
  • Epileptogenesis
  • Nrf2-KEAP1 pathway
  • Oxidative stress
  • SFN


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