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Nutrition 2022

Lara Testai

Lara Testai, Speaker at Nutrition Conference
University of Pisa, Italy
Title : Anti-obesity benefits of vegetables containing glucosinolates: role of hydrogen sulfide.


Obesity is a global health problem, currently regarded as a major source of co-morbidities, with dramatic complications impacting on life expectancy. Several studies have demonstrated a strong correlation between obesity and increased risk of developing cardiovascular (CV) diseases, especially heart failure, hypertension, coronary heart disease and type II diabetes. Moreover, in the current COVID19 pandemic, obesity is emerged as one of the chronic diseases associated with more serious complications during the contagion. Excess weight is now an epidemic in the pandemic, and despite numerous pharmaceutical and nutraceutical approaches, it remains an unresolved condition that paves the way for serious complications (1); therefore the identification of an effective and safe therapeutic approach is a real medical necessity. Furthermore, the therapeutic approach should be aimed not only at reducing body weight, but mainly aimed at limiting systemic inflammation and slowing down the cardio-metabolic and vascular alterations at the basis of the most important complications associated with obesity. In this regards, vegetables of the Brassicaceae family are well-recognized for their favorable effects on metabolic and cardiovascular disorders. The juice of Brassica rapa L. (var. Perviridis), a variety of japanese turnip, showed to reduce cholesterol levels in middle-aged men through improvement of cholesterol metabolism (2). Other studies reported the lipid-lowering effects of broccoli (3), and positive effects on lipid profile and body fat in rats fed a high-fat diet of Brassica juncea leaf extracts (4). Recently, we observed health beneficial effects on metabolism and cardiovascular system with a seed extract of Eruca sativa Mill., commonly named rocket salad, containing high amount of glucosinolates, such as glucoerucin (5). The bioactive components of Brassicaceae are glucosinolates and their isothiocyanate derivatives. Indeed, glucosinalates can be converted, through myrosinase enzyme, in isothiocyantes, described as moieties able to release hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a gasotransmitter endowed with pivotal role in cardiovascular and metabolic homeostasis (6;7). We hypothesize that at least in part these natural compounds are able to act on metabolic disorder through the release of H2S.


Associate Professor (from 2018-today) of Pharmacognosy, Pharmacotherapy and Nutraceuticals and nutrigenomics at Department of Pharmacy, University of Pisa (Italy). Her research activity is dedicated to cardiovascular pharmacology and in particular the research of natural approaches to obtain a protection of cardiovascular system against ageing and age-related morbidities, including metabolic disorders and cardiac fibrosis. Research activity is documented by117 peer reviewed papers (h-index: 35).