Vegetables May Protect Kidneys in Mice Lacking GSTM1 Enzyme

By David Douglas

December 03, 2019

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Consumption of cruciferous vegetable such as broccoli and kale may mitigate the increased kidney-disease risk in GSTM1-knockout mice, new research shows.

The GSTM1 gene encodes glutathione S-transferase mu-1, a member of the superfamily of phase-2 antioxidant enzymes. The GSTM1-deletion variant is highly prevalent and has been linked to kidney-disease progression in human studies, Dr. Thu H. Le of the University of Rochester School of Medicine, in New York, and colleagues note in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, online November 14.

The new findings, Dr. Le told Reuters Health by email, "suggest that there are bioactive compounds in cruciferous vegetables that may be beneficial in preventing or delaying kidney-disease progression, particularly in those lacking GSTM1 (an enzyme that plays a role in ridding the body of toxins and combating oxidative stress) who are genetically most at risk."

She and her colleagues point out that "a growing body of evidence suggests that GSTM1 plays an important role in determining disease susceptibility."

To investigate further, the researchers generated a knockout mouse line to mimic the common deletion variant in humans. The animals underwent subtotal nephrectomy to provide a model of chronic kidney disease or were treated with angiotensin II to model hypertension.

Knockout mice displayed increased oxidative stress, kidney injury and inflammation in both models compared with wild-type mice. The team also found that Gstm1 deletion in the parenchyma, and not in bone marrow-derived cells, drives renal inflammation.

Dietary supplementation with cruciferous broccoli powder rich in the precursor to antioxidant-activating sulforaphane significantly ameliorated kidney injury in the knockout, but not in the wild-type mice.

"Our study highlights diet-gene interactions in kidney disease and illustrates that response to the disease-modifying effect of diet is influenced by genetics," Dr. Le said in a statement.

"In the context of personalized and precision medicine," she told Reuters Health, "knowing an individual’s genetic information enables tailoring an intervention to treat kidney disease in those who would respond based on their genetic makeup."


J Am Soc Nephrol 2019.