Measuring sulforaphane and its metabolites in human plasma: A high throughput method

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(1) Background: There is increasing understanding of the potential health benefits of cruciferous vegetables. In particular sulforaphane (SFN), found in broccoli, and its metabolites sulforaphane-glutathione (SFN-GSH), sulforaphane-cysteine (SFN-Cys), sulforaphane cysteine-glycine (SFN-CG) and sulforaphane-N-acetyl-cysteine (SFN-NAC) have potent antioxidant effects that may offer therapeutic value. Clinical investigation of sulforaphane as a therapeutic antioxidant requires a sensitive and high throughput process for quantification of sulforaphane and metabolites; (2) Methods: We collected plasma samples from healthy human volunteers before and for eight hours after consumption of a commercial broccoli extract supplement rich in sulforaphane. A rapid and sensitive method for quantification of sulforaphane and its metabolites in human plasma using Liquid Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry (LC–MS) has been developed; (3) Results: The LC–MS analytical method was validated at concentrations ranging between 3.9 nM and 1000 nM for SFN-GSH, SFN-CG, SFN-Cys and SFN-NAC and between 7.8 nM and 1000 nM in human plasma for SFN. The method displayed good accuracy (1.85%–14.8% bias) and reproducibility (below 9.53 %RSD) including low concentrations 3.9 nM and 7.8 nM. Four SFN metabolites quantitation was achieved using external standard calibration and in SFN quantitation, SFN-d8 internal standardization was used. The reported method can accurately quantify sulforaphane and its metabolites at low concentrations in plasma; (4) Conclusions: We have established a time- and cost-efficient method of measuring sulforaphane and its metabolites in human plasma suitable for high throughput application to clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
Article number829
Number of pages13
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2020


  • Liquid Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry
  • Pharmacokinetic
  • Sulforaphane

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