Our group studies activation of the Nrf2 transcription factor by natural products and other small molecules. Upon activation, Nrf2 induces the expression of genes that encode for cytoprotective proteins, including those with detoxification, antioxidant, and damage repair functions. Over time, Nrf2 activation can help protect against chronic disease including various cancers, arthritis, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases. A wide variety of foods contain compounds that activate Nrf2, for example EGCG from green tea, shogaols from ginger, and sulfur compounds from garlic and onions. Currently, we are studying the role of reactive oxygen species in Nrf2 activation by small molecules with funding from the Research Corporation’s Cottrell College Science Award and an award from the Phytochemistry Journal/Phytochemistry Society of North America. We also investigate and characterize potential Nrf2 activators from natural product sources, as well as the mechanisms of Nrf2 activation by these molecules.
For more detail, here is a link to a recent review on Nrf2 activation by phytochemicals, authored by Dr. Eggler.