Thomas W. Sedlak, Leslie G. Nucifora, Minori Koga, Lindsay S. Shaffer, Cecilia Higgs, Teppei Tanaka, Anna M. Wang, Jennifer M. Coughlin, Peter B. Barker, Jed W. Fahey, and Akira Sawa
Schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric disorders await mechanism-associated interventions. Excess oxidative stress is increasingly appreciated to participate in the pathophysiology of brain disorders, and decreases in the major antioxidant, glutathione (GSH), have been reported in multiple studies. Technical cautions regarding the estimation of oxidative stress-related changes in the brain via imaging techniques have led investigators to explore peripheral GSH as a possible pathological signature of oxidative stress-associated brain changes. In a preclinical model of GSH deficiency, we found a correlation between whole brain and peripheral GSH levels. We found that the naturally occurring isothiocyanate sulforaphane increased blood GSH levels in healthy human subjects following 7 days of daily oral administration. In parallel, we explored the potential influence of sulforaphane on brain GSH levels in the anterior cingulate cortex, hippocampus, and thalamus via 7-T magnetic resonance spectroscopy. A significant positive correlation between blood and thalamic GSH post- and pre-sulforaphane treatment ratios was observed, in addition to a consistent increase in brain GSH levels in response to treatment. This clinical pilot study suggests the value of exploring relationships between peripheral GSH and clinical/neuropsychological measures, as well as the influences sulforaphane has on functional measures that are altered in neuropsychiatric disorders.