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Indole-3-Carbinol Reduces Severity of Lupus

June 2004

LE Magazine June 2004
Indole-3-Carbinol Reduces Severity of Lupus

Lupus-prone mice fed a diet rich in indole-3-carbinol (I3C) lived longer and had fewer symptoms than mice fed a diet containing no I3C, according to research published in the Journal of Nutrition.*

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects approximately 1.5 million Americans. Estrogen is believed to play a role in the disease, whichmay explain why women are nine times more likely than men to be afflicted with lupus.

Researchers at the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Research Institute in New York altered mice genetically to make them prone to systemic lupus erythematosus, the most common form of the disease. Starting at five months of age, one group of mice was fed a diet rich in I3C, while the control mice were fed a diet containing no I3C.

At 12 months of age, 100% of the I3C-fed mice were still alive, as compared to only 30% of the control mice. In addition, kidney problems, a common complication of lupus, were less severe in the I3C-fed mice.

“The findings support the view that I3C may benefit people at risk for systemic lupus erythematosus as well as those in the early stages of the disease,” said lead researcher Dr. Karen Auborn. “Systemic lupus erythematosus is often treated with immunosuppressive drugs, which can have serious toxic side effects. By reducing the severity of the disease, I3C may allow a decrease in the dose of immunosuppressive drugs required, thereby reducing toxicity. It may even help prevent the recurrence of the disease.”

I3C is abundant in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, and also is available as a dietary supplement.

—Marc Ellman, MD


* Auborn KJ, Qi M, Yan XJ, et al. Lifespan is pro- longed in autoimmune-prone (NZB/NZW) F1 mice fed a diet supplemented with indole-3- carbinol. J Nutr. 2003 Nov;133(11):3610-3.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Tied to Improved Cognitive Function

Normal aging is associated with a diminished ability to learn and retain information. The good news, however, is that continuing education, intact social networks, and physical activity all protect age-related cognitive function. Even better, once memory loss occurs, its progression can be decelerated or even reversed.

Unfortunately, the prevalence of cognitive impairment is substantial and rising. It is estimated that 3-5% of adults have mild cognitive impairment and 11-17% have severe cognitive impairment (without dementia) that interferes with daily functioning.1,2 Cognitive impairment is the premonitory symptom of dementia, and approximately 10% of those so affected progress yearly.

Researchers at the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands recently reported that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation or fatty fish consumption is tied to enhanced cognitive performance and speed. Conversely, they determined that diets high in cholesterol and saturated fat impair memory and cognitive flexibility.3

The commonly accepted mechanisms of cognitive preservation include an anti-inflammatory effect, an antioxidant effect, and neural membrane fluidity support. Studies clearly show that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids enhance neuronal transmission and reduce oxidative stress.4,5

—Dean S. Cunningham, MD, PhD


1. Ritchie K, Artero S, Touchon J. Classification criteria for mild cognitive impairment: a population-based validation study. Neurology. 2001 Jan 9;56(1):37-42.

2. Graham JE, Rockwood K, Beattie BL, et al. Prevalence and severity of cognitive impair- ment with and without dementia in an elder- ly population. Lancet. 1997 Jun 21;349(9068):1793-6.

3. Kalmijn S, van Boxtel MP, Ocke M, Verschuren WM, Kromhout D, Launer LJ. Dietary intake of fatty acids and fish in rela- tion to cognitive performance at middle age. Neurology. 2004 Jan 27;62(2):275-80.

4. Delion S, Chalon S, Guilloteau D, Besnard JC, Durand G. Alpha-linoleic acid dietary deficiency alters age-related changes of dopaminergic and serotoninergic neuro- transmission in the rat frontal cortex. J Neurochem. 1996 Apr;66(4):1582-91.

5. Kubo K, Saito M, Tadokoro T, Maekawa A. Dietary docosahexaenoic acid dose does not promote lipid peroxidation in rat tissue to the extent expected from peroxidizability index of the lipids. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 1998 Sep;62(9):1698-706.