A traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) formula, HZJW, has been applied in clinics in China for gastrointestinal disorders. However, the therapeutic mechanism underlying its efficacy and safety remained to be defined. The present investigation was undertaken to evaluate the formula HZJW for its gastroprotective potential, possible effect on Helicobacter pylori along with safety to justify its anti-ulcer action and safe clinical application.
The gastroduodenal cytoprotective potential was evaluated in rodent experimental models (HCl/Ethanol and NSAID-induced ulcer protocols). The anti-H. pylori property was assessed by agar dilution assay in vitro and analysis in vivo including rapid urease test, immunogold test and histopathology. For toxicity assessment, acute toxicity study was performed according to fixed dose procedure with a single oral administration of HZJW to mice. In the oral chronic toxicity, rats (80 males, 80 females) were administrated HZJW orally in 0, 1000, 2500, or 5000 mg/kg/day doses for 26 weeks (n = 40/group of each sex). Clinical signs, mortality, body weights, feed consumption, ophthalmology, hematology, serum biochemistry, gross findings, organ weights and histopathology were examined at the end of the 13- and 26-week dosing period, as well as after the 4-week recovery period.
In the HCl/Ethanol-induced ulcer model, it was observed that oral administration with HZJW (260, 520 and 1040 mg/kg) and ranitidine (250 mg/kg) significantly reduced the ulcerative lesion index (116.70 ± 36.4, 102.20 ± 18.20, 84.10 ± 12.1 and 73.70 ± 16.70) in a dose-dependent manner, respectively, with respect to control group (134.10 ± 31.69). Significant inhibition was also observed in ulcerative index from aspirin-induced ulcer model, with decreases of 35.40 ± 5.93, 31.30 ± 8.08, 26.80 ± 8.27and 20.40 ± 6.93 for the groups treated with HZJW and ranitidine, in parallel to controls (41.60 ± 10.80). On the other hand, treatment with HZJW efficaciously eradicated H. pylori in infected mice in rapid urease test (RUT) and immunogold antibody assay, as further confirmed by reduction of H. pylori presence in histopathological analysis. In the in vitro assay, MICs for HZJW and amoxicillin (positive control) were 125 and 0.12 μg/mL respectively. The LD50 of HZJW was over 18.0 g/kg for mice. No drug-induced abnormalities were found as clinical signs, body weight, food consumption, hematology, blood biochemistry, ophthalmology and histopathology results across three doses. No target organ was identified. The No Observed Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL) of HZJW was determined to be 5,000 mg/kg/day for both sexes, a dose that was equivalent to 50 times of human dose.
These results suggested the efficacy and safety of HZJW in healing peptic ulcer and combating H. pylori, which corroborated their conventional indications and contributed to their antiulcer pharmacological validation, lending more credence to its clinical application for the traditional treatment of stomach complaints symptomatic of peptic ulcer disease (PUD). HZJW might have the potential for further development as a safe and effective alternative/complementary to conventional medication in treating gastrointestinal (GI) disorders.