Sulforaphane ameliorates steroid insensitivity through an Nrf2-dependent pathway in cigarette smoke-exposed asthmatic mice

Hirofumi Sakurai, Yuko Morishima, Yukio Ishii, Kazufumi Yoshida, Masayuki Nakajima, Yoshiya Tsunoda, Shih Yuan Hayashi, Takumi Kiwamoto, Yosuke Matsuno, Mio Kawaguchi, Masayuki Yamamoto, Nobuyuki Hizawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Oxidative stress induced by cigarette smoke and other environmental pollutants contributes to refractory asthma. To better understand the role of smoking in asthma, we investigated the effects of cigarette smoke on allergic airway responses in mice and examined expression of nuclear factor-E2-related factor-2 (Nrf2) and its downstream factors, because Nrf2 is known to play a pivotal role in antioxidant responses. OVA-sensitized and challenged BALB/c mice were exposed to cigarette smoke and then treated with dexamethasone, sulforaphane (an activator of Nrf2), or their combination. Upon exposure to cigarette smoke, Nrf2 and associated transcripts were upregulated in response to oxidative stress, and asthmatic responses were steroid resistant. In OVA-sensitized and challenged mice exposed to cigarette smoke and treated with sulforaphane, Nrf2-mediated antioxidant responses were upregulated to a greater extent, and steroid sensitivity of asthmatic responses was restored. Moreover, the expression and activity of histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC2), a key regulator of steroid responsiveness, was reduced in mice exposed to cigarette smoke, but restored by sulforaphane treatment. No effects of sulforaphane were observed in Nrf2-deficient mice. These findings indicate that cigarette smoke induces steroid unresponsiveness in asthmatic airways, and that sulforaphane restores steroid sensitivity via upregulation of Nrf2 and enhancement of HDAC2 expression and activity. Thus, Nrf2 may serve as a potential molecular target for cigarette smoke-related refractory asthma resistant to steroid therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-485
Number of pages13
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec


  • Asthma
  • Cigarette smoke
  • HDAC2
  • Nrf2
  • Steroid insensitivity
  • Sulforaphane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Sulforaphane ameliorates steroid insensitivity through an Nrf2-dependent pathway in cigarette smoke-exposed asthmatic mice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this