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