Sulforaphane (SFN) plays an important role in preventing oxidative stress by activating the nuclear factor (erythroid derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2) signalling pathway. SFN may improve exercise endurance capacity by counteracting oxidative stress-induced damage during exercise. We assessed running ability based on an exhaustive treadmill test (progressive-continuous all-out) and examined the expression of markers for oxidative stress and muscle damage. Twelve- to 13-week-old Male wild-type mice (Nrf2 +/+) and Nrf2-null mice (Nrf2 -/-) on C57BL/6J background were intraperitoneally injected with SFN or vehicle prior to the test. The running distance of SFN-injected Nrf2 +/+ mice was significantly greater compared with that of uninjected mice. Enhanced running capacity was accompanied by upregulation of Nrf2 signalling and downstream genes. Marker of oxidative stress in SFN-injected Nrf2 +/+ mice were lower than those in uninjected mice following the test. SFN produced greater protection against muscle damage during exhaustive exercise conditions in Nrf2 +/+ mice than in Nrf2 -/- mice. SFN-induced Nrf2 upregulation, and its antioxidative effects, might play critical roles in attenuating muscle fatigue via reduction of oxidative stress caused by exhaustive exercise. This in turn leads to enhanced exercise endurance capacity. These results provide new insights into SFN-induced upregulation of Nrf2 and its role in improving exercise performance.
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