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1.  Longitudinal analysis of inflammation and microbiota dynamics in a model of mild chronic dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis in mice 
AIM: To characterize longitudinally the inflammation and the gut microbiota dynamics in a mouse model of dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis.
METHODS: In animal models, the most common method used to trigger colitis is based on the oral administration of the sulfated polysaccharides DSS. The murine DSS colitis model has been widely adopted to induce severe acute, chronic or semi-chronic colitis, and has been validated as an important model for the translation of mice data to human inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, it is now clear that models characterized by mild intestinal damage are more accurate for studying the effects of therapeutic agents. For this reason, we have developed a murine model of mild colitis to study longitudinally the inflammation and microbiota dynamics during the intestinal repair processes, and to obtain data suitable to support the recovery of gut microbiota-host homeostasis.
RESULTS: All plasma cytokines evaluated, except IL-17, began to increase (P < 0.05), after 7 d of DSS administration. IL-17 only began to increase 4 d after DSS withdrawal. IL-1β and IL-17 continue to increase during the recovery phase, even when clinical signs of colitis had disappeared. IL-6, IL-10 and IFN-γ reached their maxima 4 d after DSS withdrawal and decreased during the late recovery phase. TNFα reached a peak (a three- fold increase, P < 0.05), after which it slightly decreased, only to increase again close to the end of the recovery phase. DSS administration induced profound and rapid changes in the mice gut microbiota. After 3 d of DSS administration, we observed a major reduction in Bacteroidetes/Prevotella and a corresponding increase in Bacillaceae, with respect to control mice. In particular, Bacteroidetes/Prevotella decreased from a relative abundance of 59.42%-33.05%, while Bacillaceae showed a concomitant increase from 2.77% to 10.52%. Gut microbiota rapidly shifted toward a healthy profile during the recovery phase and returned normal 4 d after DSS withdrawal. Cyclooxygenase 2 expression started to increase 4 d after DSS withdrawal (P < 0.05), when dysbiosis had recovered, and continued to increase during the recovery phase. Taken together, these data indicated that a chronic phase of intestinal inflammation, characterized by the absence of dysbiosis, could be obtained in mice using a single DSS cycle.
CONCLUSION: Dysbiosis contributes to the local and systemic inflammation that occurs in the DSS model of colitis; however, chronic bowel inflammation is maintained even after recovery from dysbiosis.
PMCID: PMC3934475  PMID: 24587679
Colitis, Dysbiosis; Dextran sulfate sodium; Inflammation; Cyclooxygenase 2
2.  Absence of bacterially induced RELMβ reduces injury in the dextran sodium sulfate model of colitis 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2006;116(11):2914-2923.
Although inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is the result of a dysregulated immune response to commensal gut bacteria in genetically predisposed individuals, the mechanism(s) by which bacteria lead to the development of IBD are unknown. Interestingly, deletion of intestinal goblet cells protects against intestinal injury, suggesting that this epithelial cell lineage may produce molecules that exacerbate IBD. We previously reported that resistin-like molecule β (RELMβ; also known as FIZZ2) is an intestinal goblet cell–specific protein that is induced upon bacterial colonization whereupon it is expressed in the ileum and colon, regions of the gut most often involved in IBD. Herein, we show that disruption of this gene reduces the severity of colitis in the dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) model of murine colonic injury. Although RELMβ does not alter colonic epithelial proliferation or barrier function, we show that recombinant protein activates macrophages to produce TNF-α both in vitro and in vivo. RELMβ expression is also strongly induced in the terminal ileum of the SAMP1/Fc model of IBD. These results suggest a model whereby the loss of epithelial barrier function by DSS results in the activation of the innate mucosal response by RELMβ located in the lumen, supporting the hypothesis that this protein is a link among goblet cells, commensal bacteria, and the pathogenesis of IBD.
PMCID: PMC1590268  PMID: 17024245
3.  Dextran Sodium Sulfate (DSS) Induces Colitis in Mice by Forming Nano-Lipocomplexes with Medium-Chain-Length Fatty Acids in the Colon 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32084.
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), primarily ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, are inflammatory disorders caused by multiple factors. Research on IBD has often used the dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced colitis mouse model. DSS induces in vivo but not in vitro intestinal inflammation. In addition, no DSS-associated molecule (free glucose, sodium sulfate solution, free dextran) induces in vitro or in vivo intestinal inflammation. We find that DSS but not dextran associated molecules established linkages with medium-chain-length fatty acids (MCFAs), such as dodecanoate, that are present in the colonic lumen. DSS complexed to MCFAs forms nanometer-sized vesicles ∼200 nm in diameter that can fuse with colonocyte membranes. The arrival of nanometer-sized DSS/MCFA vesicles in the cytoplasm may activate intestinal inflammatory signaling pathways. We also show that the inflammatory activity of DSS is mediated by the dextran moieties. The deleterious effect of DSS is localized principally in the distal colon, therefore it will be important to chemically modify DSS to develop materials beneficial to the colon without affecting colon-targeting specificity.
PMCID: PMC3302894  PMID: 22427817
4.  Lysate of Probiotic Lactobacillus casei DN-114 001 Ameliorates Colitis by Strengthening the Gut Barrier Function and Changing the Gut Microenvironment 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27961.
Probiotic bacteria can be used for the prevention and treatment of human inflammatory diseases including inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). However, the nature of active components and exact mechanisms of this beneficial effects have not been fully elucidated. Our aim was to investigate if lysate of probiotic bacterium L. casei DN-114 001 (Lc) could decrease the severity of intestinal inflammation in a murine model of IBD.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The preventive effect of oral administration of Lc significantly reduces the severity of acute dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) colitis in BALB/c but not in SCID mice. In order to analyze how this beneficial effect interferes with well-known phases of intestinal inflammation pathogenesis in vivo and in vitro, we evaluated intestinal permeability using the FITC-labeled dextran method and analysed tight junction proteins expression by immunofluorescence and PCR. We also measured CD4+FoxP3+ regulatory T cells proportion by FACS analysis, microbiota composition by pyrosequencing, and local cytokine production by ELISA. Lc leads to a significant protection against increased intestinal permeability and barrier dysfunction shown by preserved ZO-1 expression. We found that the Lc treatment increases the numbers of CD4+FoxP3+ regulatory T cells in mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN), decreases production of pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-α and IFN-γ, and anti-inflammatory IL-10 in Peyer's patches and large intestine, and changes the gut microbiota composition. Moreover, Lc treatment prevents lipopolysaccharide-induced TNF-α expression in RAW 264.7 cell line by down-regulating the NF-κB signaling pathway.
Our study provided evidence that even non-living probiotic bacteria can prevent the development of severe forms of intestinal inflammation by strengthening the integrity of intestinal barrier and modulation of gut microenvironment.
PMCID: PMC3222668  PMID: 22132181
5.  Expression of Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor-γ in Macrophage Suppresses Experimentally-Induced Colitis 
Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) has been shown to be a protective transcription factor in mouse models of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). PPARγ is expressed in several different cell types, and mice with a targeted disruption of the PPARγ gene in intestinal epithelial cells demonstrated increased susceptibility to dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced IBD. However, the highly selective PPARγ ligand rosiglitazone decreased the severity of DSS-induced colitis and suppressed cytokine production in both PPARγ intestinal specific null mice and wild-type littermates. Therefore the role of PPARγ in different tissues and their contribution to the pathogenesis of IBD still remain unclear.
Mice with a targeted disruption of PPARγ in macrophages (PPARγΔMφ) and wild-type littermates (PPARγF/F) were administered 2.5% DSS in drinking water to induce IBD. Typical clinical symptoms were evaluated on a daily basis and proinflammatory cytokine analysis was performed.
PPARγΔMφ mice displayed an increased susceptibility to DSS-induced colitis in comparison to wild-type littermates, as defined by body weight loss, diarrhea, rectal bleeding score, colon length and histology. Interleukin (IL)-1β, CCR2, MCP-1 and iNOS mRNA levels in colons of PPARγΔMφ mice treated with DSS were higher than in similarly treated PPARγF/F mice.
The present study has identified a novel protective role for macrophage PPARγ in the DSS-induced IBD model. The data suggest that PPARγ regulates recruitment of macrophages to inflammatory foci in the colon.
PMCID: PMC1796914  PMID: 17095756
CC chemokine receptor 2; Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor; Macrophages; Colitis
6.  Role of the protein C pathway in the extra-intestinal thrombosis associated with murine colitis 
Gastroenterology  2008;135(3):882-888.
Background & Aims
Chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are associated with an increased risk for thromboembolism. While thrombosis is known to contribute to the morbidity and mortality of patients with IBD, the underlying mechanisms that contribute to the genesis of a hypercoagulable state during intestinal inflammation remain poorly defined. The objective of this study was to determine whether the protein C pathway contributes to the enhanced extra-intestinal thrombosis that is associated with dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced colitis in mice.
Microvascular thrombosis was induced in cremaster muscle microvessels of normal and colitic mice using a light/dye injury model. DSS colitis enhanced thrombus formation in cremaster arterioles of wild type (WT) mice.
The DSS-induced thrombosis response was greatly attenuated in transgenic mice overexpressing the endothelial protein C receptor (EPCR-TgN). Activated protein C (APC), administered to colitic WT mice immediately prior to photoactivation, also afforded protection against thrombosis, while an anti-APC antibody enhanced thrombus formation.
These findings indicate that elevated APC levels, derived from either endogenous or exogenous sources, confer protection against the extra-intestinal thrombosis that accompanies colonic inflammation.
PMCID: PMC2601716  PMID: 18514072
inflammatory bowel disease; activated protein C; arterioles; venules
7.  Temporal and Spatial Analysis of Clinical and Molecular Parameters in Dextran Sodium Sulfate Induced Colitis 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(6):e6073.
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), including mainly ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease (CD), are inflammatory disorders of the gastrointestinal tract caused by an interplay of genetic and environmental factors. Murine colitis model induced by Dextran Sulfate Sodium (DSS) is an animal model of IBD that is commonly used to address the pathogenesis of IBD as well as to test efficacy of therapies. In this study we systematically analyzed clinical parameters, histological changes, intestinal barrier properties and cytokine profile during the colitic and recovery phase.
C57BL/6 mice were administered with 3.5% of DSS in drinking water for various times. Clinical and histological features were determined using standard criteria. Myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity, transepithelial permeability and proinflammatory mediators were determined in whole colon or proximal and distal parts of colon.
As expected after administration of DSS, mice manifest loss of body weight, shortening of colon length and bloody feces. Histological manifestations included shortening and loss of crypts, infiltration of lymphocytes and neutrophil, symptoms attenuated after DSS withdrawal. The MPO value, as inflammation indicator, also increases significantly at all periods of DSS treatment, and even after DSS withdrawal, it still held at very high levels. Trans-mucosal permeability increased during DSS treatment, but recovered to almost control level after DSS withdrawal. The production of proinflammatory mediators by colonic mucosa were enhanced during DSS treatment, and then recovered to pre-treated level after DSS withdrawal. Finally, enhanced expression of proinflammatory mediators also revealed a different profile feature in proximal and distal parts of the colon.
Experimental colitis induced by DSS is a good animal model to study the mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis and intervention against IBD, especially UC.
PMCID: PMC2698136  PMID: 19562033
8.  New Perspective on Dextran Sodium Sulfate Colitis: Antigen-Specific T Cell Development during Intestinal Inflammation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69936.
CD4+ T cell responses against oral antigens can develop in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients, which may modulate disease. Dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) colitis is commonly used to study IBD, however, it is not considered the best model in which to study T cell involvement in intestinal disease. Our aim was to determine if antigen-specific T cells could be induced during DSS colitis and if they could be detected after disease resolution. To induce antigen-specific T cells, the tracking antigen, ovalbumin (OVA), was administered orally during colitis initiation. Disease severity was monitored, and the antigen-reactivity of CD4+ T cells examined using CD69 expression. While OVA-directed, CD4+ Foxp3+ regulatory T cells could be detected in the spleens of both OVA-treated control and DSS mice, OVA-reactive, CD4+ Foxp3-T cells were only found in the OVA and DSS-treated mice. These results indicate that during DSS colitis T cells develop that are specific against oral antigens, and they are found systemically after colitis resolution. This gives added depth and utility to the DSS model as well as a way to track T cells that are primed against luminal antigens.
PMCID: PMC3723715  PMID: 23936123
9.  Campylobacter jejuni Disrupts Protective Toll-Like Receptor 9 Signaling in Colonic Epithelial Cells and Increases the Severity of Dextran Sulfate Sodium-Induced Colitis in Mice 
Infection and Immunity  2012;80(4):1563-1571.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is characterized by chronic intestinal inflammation associated with a dysregulated immune response to commensal bacteria in susceptible individuals. The relapse of IBD may occur following an infection with Campylobacter jejuni. Apical epithelial Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) activation by bacterial DNA is reported to maintain colonic homeostasis. We investigated whether a prior C. jejuni infection disrupts epithelial TLR9 signaling and increases the severity of disease in a model of mild dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) colitis in mice. In a further attempt to identify mechanisms, T84 monolayers were treated with C. jejuni followed by a TLR9 agonist. Transepithelial resistance (TER) and dextran flux across confluent monolayers were monitored. Immunohistochemistry, Western blotting, and flow cytometry were used to examine TLR9 expression. Mice colonized by C. jejuni lacked any detectable pathology; however, in response to low levels of DSS, mice previously exposed to C. jejuni exhibited significantly reduced weight gain and increased occult blood and histological damage scores. Infected mice treated with DSS also demonstrated a significant reduction in levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-25. In vitro studies indicated that apical application of a TLR9 agonist enhances intestinal epithelial barrier function and that this response is lost in C. jejuni-infected monolayers. Furthermore, infected cells secreted significantly more CXCL8 following the basolateral application of a TLR9 agonist. Surface TLR9 expression was reduced in C. jejuni-infected monolayers subsequently exposed to a TLR9 agonist. In conclusion, infection by C. jejuni disrupts TLR9-induced reinforcement of the intestinal epithelial barrier, and colonization by C. jejuni increases the severity of mild DSS colitis.
PMCID: PMC3318425  PMID: 22311925
10.  Dextran Sodium Sulphate Colitis Mouse Model: Traps and Tricks 
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a complex multifactorial disease of unknown etiology. Thus, dozens of different animal models of IBD have been developed in past decades. Animal models of IBD are valuable and indispensable tools that provide a wide range of options for investigating involvement of various factors into the pathogenesis of IBD and to evaluate different therapeutic options. However, the dextran sulphate sodium (DSS-) induced colitis model has some advantages when compared to other animal models of colitis. It is well appreciated and widely used model of inflammatory bowel disease because of its simplicity. It has many similarities to human IBD, which are mentioned in the paper. In spite of its simplicity and wide applicability, there are also traps that need to be taken into account when using DSS model. As demonstrated in the present paper, various factors may affect susceptibility to DSS-induced lesions and modify results.
PMCID: PMC3361365  PMID: 22665990
11.  Prenatal Methyl-Donor Supplementation Augments Colitis in Young Adult Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e73162.
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) have become highly prevalent in developed countries. Environmentally triggered exaggerated immune responses against the intestinal microbiome are thought to mediate the disorders. The potential dietary origins of the disease group have been implicated. However, the effects of environmental influences on prenatal developmental programming in respect to orchestrating postnatal microbiome composition and predilection towards mammalian colitis have not been examined. We tested how transient prenatal exposure to methyl donor micronutrient (MD) supplemented diets may impact predilection towards IBD in a murine dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) colitis model. Prenatal MD supplementation was sufficient to modulate colonic mucosal Ppara expression (3.2 fold increase; p=0.022) and worsen DSS colitis in young adulthood. The prenatal dietary exposure shifted the postnatal colonic mucosal and cecal content microbiomes. Transfer of the gut microbiome from prenatally MD supplemented young adult animals into germ free mice resulted in increased colitis susceptibility in the recipients compared to controls. Therefore, the prenatal dietary intervention induced the postnatal nurturing of a colitogenic microbiome. Our results show that prenatal nutritional programming can modulate the mammalian host to harbor a colitogenic microbiome. These findings may be relevant for the nutritional developmental origins of IBD.
PMCID: PMC3747105  PMID: 23977377
12.  Protective role of 1,25(OH)2vitamin D3 in the mucosal injury and epithelial barrier disruption in DSS-induced acute colitis in mice 
BMC Gastroenterology  2012;12:57.
Intestinal hyper-permeability plays a critical role in the etiopathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) by affecting the penetration of pathogens, toxic compounds and macromolecules. 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25(OH)2D3], the active form of vitamin D, has been shown to be an important regulator of IBD and recent epidemiology suggests that patients with IBD have an impaired vitamin D status. The purpose of this study is to investigate the possible protective effects of 1,25(OH)2D3 on mucosal injury and epithelial barrier disruption on dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced acute colitis model.
We used DSS-induced acute colitis model to investigate the protective effects of 1,25(OH)2D3 on mucosal injury and epithelial barrier integrity. Severity of colitis was evaluated by disease activity index (DAI), body weight (BW) change, colon length, histology, myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity, and proinflammatory cytokine production including tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ). In vitro the protective role of 1,25(OH)2D3 was assessed by incubating Caco-2 cells with or without DSS and measuring transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) and fluorescein isothiocyanate dextran (FITC-D). The intestinal permeability was analyzed by FITC-D, bacterial translocation and measurement of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Ultrastructural features of the colon tissue and Caco-2 cell monolayer were observed by electron microscopy. Expressions of tight junction (TJ) proteins in the colon mucosa and Caco-2 cells were detected by immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, Western blot and real-time fluorescent quantitative PCR, respectively.
DSS-induced acute colitis model was characterized by a reduced BW, AUC of BW, serum calcium, higher DAI, AUC of DAI, shortened colon length, elevated MPO activity, worsened histologic inflammation, increased mononuclear cell numbers in mesenteric lymph nodes (MLNs) and colonic lamina propria (LP), and enhanced proteins and mRNA levels of TNF-α and IFN-γ. 1,25(OH)2D3 markedly increased expressions of TJ proteins and mRNA and decreased the FITC-D permeability and the level of LPS. Furthermore, 1,25(OH)2D3 abrogated bacterial translocation to MLNs and ameliorated ultrastructural features of the colon epithelium by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). In vitro, 1,25(OH)2D3 increased TEER, TJ proteins and mRNA expressions, decreased the FITC-D permeability, and preserved structural integrity of the TJ in Caco-2 cells.
1,25(OH)2D3 may play a protective role in mucosal barrier homeostasis by maintaining the integrity of junction complexes and in healing capacity of the colon epithelium. 1,25(OH)2D3 may represent an attractive and novel therapeutic agent for the adjuvant therapy of IBD.
PMCID: PMC3464614  PMID: 22647055
Barrier protection function; Dextran sulfate sodium; Inflammatory bowel disease; Tight junction; 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3
13.  Green Tea Polyphenols and Sulfasalazine have Parallel Anti-Inflammatory Properties in Colitis Models 
Background: There is no cure for autoimmune chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD patients commonly use complementary and alternative medications of which the safety, efficacy, and interaction with standard-of-care therapies are not fully known. Thus the consequences can become life-threatening. Sulfasalazine commonly used in IBD, potentially has severe adverse effects, including infertility, pulmonary fibrosis, lack of response, and ultimately patients may require intestinal resection. We hypothesized that green tea polyphenols (GrTP, EGCG) and sulfasalazine have similar anti-inflammatory properties.
Methods: BALB/c mice received Dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) to induce colitis (ulcerative colitis model). Exposure of IL-10 deficient mice (BALB/c-background) to normal microbiota provoked enterocolitis (mimics Crohn’s disease). Animals were treated with agents incorporated into daily diets. Control animals received sham treatment.
Results: DSS-treated animals developed severe bloody diarrhea and colitis (score 0–4, 3.2 ± 0.27). IL-10 deficient mice developed severe enterocolitis as manifested by diarrhea, rectal prolapse, and colonic lesions. Animals tolerated regimens (GrTP, EGCG, sulfasalazine) with no major side effects, and further developed less severe colitis. IL-10 deficient animals became moribund on high dose, while tolerated low and Mid doses with significant improved symptoms of enterocolitis. GrTP, EGCG, and sulfasalazine significantly ameliorated colonic damage and histological scores in treated animals in a similar manner (GrTP vs. DSS p < 0.05; EGCG, sulfasalazine vs. DSS p < 0.01). The inflammatory markers TNFα (3-fold), IL-6 (14-fold), and serum amyloid A (40-fold) increased in colitic animals and significantly decreased with treatment regiments. In contrast, circulatory leptin levels decreased in colitic animals (twofold). EGCG additionally reduced leptin levels (p < 0.01) while GrTP and sulfasalazine had no effect on leptin levels (p < 0.05). Hepatic and colonic antioxidants were significantly depleted in colitic animals and treatment regiments significantly restored antioxidants levels.
Conclusion: GrTP and EGCG improved antioxidants levels and attenuated severity of colitis analogous to sulfasalazine. Future studies will reveal whether polyphenols can become an alternative/additive therapy for IBD therapy in humans.
PMCID: PMC3672863  PMID: 23761791
IBD; enterocolitis; colitis; polyphenols; EGCG; sulfasalazine; IL-10−/− mice
14.  PUMA-mediated intestinal epithelial apoptosis contributes to ulcerative colitis in humans and mice 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2011;121(5):1722-1732.
Intestinal epithelial cell (IEC) apoptosis contributes to the development of ulcerative colitis (UC), an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the colon and rectum. Therapies that target the inflammatory cytokine TNF have been found to inhibit IEC apoptosis in patients with IBD, although the mechanism of IEC apoptosis remains unclear. We therefore investigated the role of p53-upregulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA), a p53 target and proapoptotic BH3-only protein, in colitis and IEC apoptosis, using patient samples and mouse models of UC. In UC patient samples, PUMA expression was elevated in colitis tissues relative to that in uninvolved tissues, and the degree of elevation of PUMA expression correlated with the severity of colitis and the degree of apoptosis induction. In mice, PUMA was markedly induced in colonic epithelial cells following induction of colitis by either dextran sulfate sodium salt (DSS) or 2,4,6-trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS). The induction of PUMA was p53-independent but required NF-κB. Absence of PUMA, but neither absence of p53 nor that of another BH3-only protein (Bid), relieved DSS- and TNBS-induced colitis and inhibited IEC apoptosis. Furthermore, treating mice with infliximab (Remicade), a clinically used TNF-specific antibody, suppressed DSS- and TNBS-induced PUMA expression and colitis. These results indicate that PUMA induction contributes to the pathogenesis of colitis by promoting IEC apoptosis and suggest that PUMA inhibition may be an effective strategy to promote mucosal healing in patients with UC.
PMCID: PMC3083802  PMID: 21490394
15.  Dietary Selenium Deficiency Exacerbates DSS-Induced Epithelial Injury and AOM/DSS-Induced Tumorigenesis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e67845.
Selenium (Se) is an essential micronutrient that exerts its functions via selenoproteins. Little is known about the role of Se in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Epidemiological studies have inversely correlated nutritional Se status with IBD severity and colon cancer risk. Moreover, molecular studies have revealed that Se deficiency activates WNT signaling, a pathway essential to intestinal stem cell programs and pivotal to injury recovery processes in IBD that is also activated in inflammatory neoplastic transformation. In order to better understand the role of Se in epithelial injury and tumorigenesis resulting from inflammatory stimuli, we examined colonic phenotypes in Se-deficient or -sufficient mice in response to dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced colitis, and azoxymethane (AOM) followed by cyclical administration of DSS, respectively. In response to DSS alone, Se-deficient mice demonstrated increased morbidity, weight loss, stool scores, and colonic injury with a concomitant increase in DNA damage and increases in inflammation-related cytokines. As there was an increase in DNA damage as well as expression of several EGF and TGF-β pathway genes in response to inflammatory injury, we sought to determine if tumorigenesis was altered in the setting of inflammatory carcinogenesis. Se-deficient mice subjected to AOM/DSS treatment to model colitis-associated cancer (CAC) had increased tumor number, though not size, as well as increased incidence of high grade dysplasia. This increase in tumor initiation was likely due to a general increase in colonic DNA damage, as increased 8-OHdG staining was seen in Se-deficient tumors and adjacent, non-tumor mucosa. Taken together, our results indicate that Se deficiency worsens experimental colitis and promotes tumor development and progression in inflammatory carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3701622  PMID: 23861820
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) affects the mucosal lining of the gastrointestinal tract; the etiology is unknown and treatment is directed at systemic immunosuppression. Natural products, including medicinal herbs, have provided approximately half of the drugs developed for clinical use over the past 20 years. The purpose of our current study was to determine the effects of a novel combination of herbal extracts on intestinal inflammation using a murine model of IBD. Female Swiss-Webster mice were randomized to receive normal water or 5% dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) drinking water to induce colitis. Mice were treated with either a novel combination of herbal aqueous extracts or vehicle control per os (po) or per rectum (pr) every 24h for 7-8d. Disease activity index score (DAI) was determined daily; mice were sacrificed and colons analyzed by H&E staining, MPO assay, and cytokine (TNF-α, IL-6) ELISAs. Mice treated with the combination of herbal extracts, either po or pr, had significantly less rectal bleeding and lower DAI scores when compared to the vehicle-treated group. Moreover, colonic ulceration, leukocytic infiltration, and cytokine levels (TNF-α and IL-6) were decreased in the colons of herbal-treated mice, reflected by H&E staining, MPO assay, and cytokine ELISA. Treatment with the combination of medicinal herbs decreases leukocyte infiltration and mucosal ulceration, ameliorating the course of acute colonic inflammation. This herbal remedy may prove to be a novel and safe therapeutic alternative in the treatment of IBD.
PMCID: PMC2596578  PMID: 19051360
inflammatory bowel disease; herb; natural remedy; traditional medicine
17.  Retinoic acid suppresses intestinal mucus production and exacerbates experimental enterocolitis 
Disease Models & Mechanisms  2012;5(4):457-467.
Exposure to retinoids for the treatment of acne has been linked to the etiology of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The intestinal mucus layer is an important structural barrier that is disrupted in IBD. Retinoid-induced alteration of mucus physiology has been postulated as a mechanism linking retinoid treatment to IBD; however, there is little direct evidence for this interaction. The zebrafish larva is an emerging model system for investigating the pathogenesis of IBD. Importantly, this system allows components of the innate immune system, including mucus physiology, to be studied in isolation from the adaptive immune system. This study reports the characterization of a novel zebrafish larval model of IBD-like enterocolitis induced by exposure to dextran sodium sulfate (DSS). The DSS-induced enterocolitis model was found to recapitulate several aspects of the zebrafish trinitrobenzene-sulfonic-acid (TNBS)-induced enterocolitis model, including neutrophilic inflammation that was microbiota-dependent and responsive to pharmacological intervention. Furthermore, the DSS-induced enterocolitis model was found to be a tractable model of stress-induced mucus production and was subsequently used to identify a role for retinoic acid (RA) in suppressing both physiological and pathological intestinal mucin production. Suppression of mucin production by RA increased the susceptibility of zebrafish larvae to enterocolitis when challenged with enterocolitic agents. This study illustrates a direct effect of retinoid administration on intestinal mucus physiology and, subsequently, on the progression of intestinal inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3380709  PMID: 22563081
18.  L-arginine Supplementation Improves Responses to Injury and Inflammation in Dextran Sulfate Sodium Colitis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33546.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), consisting of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (UC), results in substantial morbidity and is difficult to treat. New strategies for adjunct therapies are needed. One candidate is the semi-essential amino acid, L-arginine (L-Arg), a complementary medicine purported to be an enhancer of immunity and vitality in the lay media. Using dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) as a murine colonic injury and repair model with similarities to human UC, we assessed the effect of L-Arg, as DSS induced increases in colonic expression of the y+ cationic amino acid transporter 2 (CAT2) and L-Arg uptake. L-Arg supplementation improved the clinical parameters of survival, body weight loss, and colon weight, and reduced colonic permeability and the number of myeloperoxidase-positive neutrophils in DSS colitis. Luminex-based multi-analyte profiling demonstrated that there was a marked reduction in proinflammatory cytokine and chemokine expression with L-Arg treatment. Genomic analysis by microarray demonstrated that DSS-treated mice supplemented with L-Arg clustered more closely with mice not exposed to DSS than to those receiving DSS alone, and revealed that multiple genes that were upregulated or downregulated with DSS alone exhibited normalization of expression with L-Arg supplementation. Additionally, L-Arg treatment of mice with DSS colitis resulted in increased ex vivo migration of colonic epithelial cells, suggestive of increased capacity for wound repair. Because CAT2 induction was sustained during L-Arg treatment and inducible nitric oxide (NO) synthase (iNOS) requires uptake of L-Arg for generation of NO, we tested the effect of L-Arg in iNOS−/− mice and found that its benefits in DSS colitis were eliminated. These preclinical studies indicate that L-Arg supplementation could be a potential therapy for IBD, and that one mechanism of action may be functional enhancement of iNOS activity.
PMCID: PMC3299802  PMID: 22428068
19.  Implication of intestinal VDR deficiency in inflammatory bowel disease 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2012;1830(1):2118-2128.
To investigate the function of the intestinal Vdr gene in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), in conjunction with the discovery of possible metabolic markers for IBD using intestine-specific Vdr knockout mice.
VdrΔIEpC mice were generated, phenotyped and treated with a time-course of 3% dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) to induce colitis. Colitis was diagnosed by evaluating clinical symptoms and intestinal histopathology. Gene expression analysis was carried out. In addition, metabolic markers of IBD were explored by metabolomics.
VdrΔIEpC mice showed abnormal body size, colon structures and feces color. Calcium, collagen, and intestinal proliferation-related gene expression were all decreased, and serum alkaline phosphatase was highly increased. In the acute model which was treated with 3% DSS for six days, VdrΔIEpC mice showed a high score of IBD symptoms; enlarged mucosal layer and damaged muscularis layer. In the recovery experiment model, where mice were treated with 3% DSS for four days and water for three days, VdrΔIEpC mice showed a high score of IBD symptoms; severe damage of mucosal layer and increased expression of genes encoding proinflammatory cytokines. Feces metabolomics revealed decreased concentrations of taurine, taurocholic acid, taurodeoxycholic acid and cholic acid in VdrΔIEpC mice.
Disruption of the intestinal Vdr gene showed phenotypical changes that may exacerbate IBD. These results suggest that VDR may play an important role in IBD.
VDR function has been implicated in IBD. This is of value for understanding the etiology of IBD and for development of diagnostic biomarkers for IBD.
PMCID: PMC3508150  PMID: 23041070
Vitamin D receptor (VDR); inflammatory bowel disease (IBD); bile acids
20.  Safety and efficacy of the immunosuppressive agent 6-tioguanine in murine model of acute and chronic colitis 
BMC Gastroenterology  2011;11:47.
Oral thiopurines are effective and widely used in treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in humans, although their use is limited due the development of adverse events. Here, we examine the efficacy and toxicity of oral treatment with 6-tioguanine (6-TG) and azathioprine (AZA) in a murine model of IBD.
We induced acute or chronic colitis in BALB/c mice by one or four cycles of 3% dextran sulphate sodium (DSS), respectively. Mice were treated by daily gavages of various dosages of 6-tioguanine, azathioprine, or by phosphate buffered saline (PBS) starting the first day of DSS or after two cycles of DSS, respectively. We monitored the efficacy and toxicity by measuring the weight change and serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activity and by disease severity and histology, at the end of the experiment. Moreover, we measured cytokine production after colon fragment cultivation by enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assay and numbers of apoptotic cells in the spleen by flow cytometry.
6-TG is effective in the treatment of acute DSS-induced colitis in a dose-dependent manner and 40 μg of 6-TG is significantly more effective in the treatment of acute colitis than both AZA and PBS. This effect is accompanied by decrease of IL-6 and IFN-γ production in colon. We did not observe histological abnormalities in liver samples from control (PBS) or 6-TG treated mice. However, liver samples from most mice treated with AZA showed mild, yet distinct signs of hepatotoxicity. In chronic colitis, all thiopurine derivatives improved colitis, 20 μg of 6-TG per dose was superior. High doses of 6-TG led to significant weight loss at the end of the therapy, but none of the thiopurine derivatives increased levels of serum ALT. Both thiopurine derivatives reduced the proportion of apoptotic T helper cells, but a high production of both IL-6 and TGF-β was observed only in colon of AZA-treated mice.
Use of 6-TG in the treatment of experimental colitis in mice appears superior to AZA administration and placebo. In contrast to 6-TG, the use of AZA resulted in histological liver abnormalities.
PMCID: PMC3097145  PMID: 21545711
21.  An old herbal medicine with a potentially new therapeutic application in inflammatory bowel disease 
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a chronic and frequently disabling inflammatory disorder of the intestine. New developments in IBD therapy are primarily focused on biologic treatments; however, they are both expensive and associated with significant side effects. Here, we provide the first preclinical evidence that YunNan BaiYao (YNBY), a well-known traditional Chinese herbal remedy frequently used for treating hemorrhages and wounds, can effectively alleviate experimental colitis. Oral administration of YNBY in drinking water significantly reduced the disease activities of both DSS- and TNBS-induced experimental colitis. Mechanistic studies revealed that the effectiveness of YNBY was not due to an anti-bacterial function since YNBY had no effect on E. coli growth. Rather, it exhibited an anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive function: In the DSS colitis model, YNBY treatment decreased the levels of several pro-inflammatory cytokines in colonic mucosa, including TNFα, IL-12p40, and IL-17. Similar cytokine changes were also observed in mouse serum, suggesting that systemic changes in general reflect the changes in the affected colon. Significant down-regulation of IL-12p40 and IL-17, in addition to IFNγ, was also seen in TNBS-colitis model. Another potential mechanism for the anti-inflammatory effects of YNBY involves the selective suppression of pro-inflammatory immune cells: YNBY effectively suppressed the growth of multiple T- and B-lymphocytes, including Molt-4, Jurkat, and EBV-transformed human B-lymphocytes, more potently than 6-mecaptopurine (6-MP) and 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA), two of the most commonly used first-line drugs in IBD therapy. In sharp contrast, YNBY exhibited no cytotoxicity to colonic epithelial cells (Caco-2 cells), even at the concentration 10-fold higher than that used in the lymphocyte model; and instead promoted cell spreading and wound healing. These results strongly suggest that YNBY not only has effective anti-inflammatory properties through suppressing lymphocyte growth and pro-inflammatory cytokine expression, but also can promote intestinal epithelial wound-healing and repair. Therefore, YNBY demonstrates strong potential as an alternative herbal therapy for IBD.
PMCID: PMC3228586  PMID: 22140602
IBD; Crohn's disease; herbal medicine; complementary and alternative medicine (CAM); YunNan BaoYao (YNBY); DSS-colitis; TNBS-colitis; cytokines; wound healing; immunesuppression
22.  Lipid Alterations in Experimental Murine Colitis: Role of Ceramide and Imipramine for Matrix Metalloproteinase-1 Expression 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(9):e7197.
Dietary lipids or pharmacologic modulation of lipid metabolism are potential therapeutic strategies in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Therefore, we analysed alterations of bioactive lipids in experimental models of colitis and examined the functional consequence of the second messenger ceramide in inflammatory pathways leading to tissue destruction.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Chronic colitis was induced by dextran-sulphate-sodium (DSS) or transfer of CD4+CD62L+ cells into RAG1−/−-mice. Lipid content of isolated murine intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) was analysed by tandem mass spectrometry. Concentrations of MMP-1 in supernatants of Caco-2-IEC and human intestinal fibroblasts from patients with ulcerative colitis were determined by ELISA. Imipramine was used for pharmacologic inhibition of acid sphingomyelinase (ASM). Ceramide increased by 71% in chronic DSS–induced colitis and by 159% in the transfer model of colitis. Lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) decreased by 22% in both models. No changes were detected for phosphatidylcholine. Generation of ceramide by exogenous SMase increased MMP-1-protein production of Caco-2-IEC up to 7-fold. Inhibition of ASM completely abolished the induction of MMP-1 by TNF or IL-1β in Caco-2-IEC and human intestinal fibroblasts.
Mucosal inflammation leads to accumulation of ceramide and decrease of LPC in the intestinal epithelium. One aspect of ceramide generation is an increase of MMP-1. Induction of MMP-1 by TNF or IL-1β is completely blocked by inhibition of ASM with imipramine. Therefore, inhibition of ASM may offer a treatment strategy to reduce MMP-1 expression and tissue destruction in inflammatory conditions.
PMCID: PMC2749204  PMID: 19787068
23.  STW 5 is effective in dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis in rats 
An herbal preparation, STW 5, used clinically in functional dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome, has been shown to possess properties that may render it useful in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The present work was conducted to study its effectiveness in a rat model of IBD.
An experimental model reflecting ulcerative colitis in man was adopted, whereby colitis was induced in Wistar rats by feeding them 5 % dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) in drinking water for one week. STW 5 and sulfasalazine (as a reference standard) were administered orally daily for 1 week before colitis induction and continued during DSS feeding. The animals were then sacrificed, and the severity of colitis was evaluated macroscopically and microscopically. Colon samples were homogenized for determination of reduced glutathione, tumor necrosis factor-α, and cytokine-induced neutrophil chemoattractant-3 as well as myeloperoxidase, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase. In addition, colon segments were suspended in an organ bath to test their reactivity towards carbachol, KCl, and trypsin.
STW 5 and sulfasalazine were both effective in preventing the shortening of colon length and the increase in both colon mass index and total histology score as well as the changes in biochemical parameters measured except changes in dismutase activity. DSS-induced colitis led to marked depression in colonic responsiveness to the agents tested ex vivo, an effect which was normalized by both drugs.
The findings point to a potential usefulness of STW 5 in the clinical setting of ulcerative colitis.
PMCID: PMC3474908  PMID: 22562255
DSS colitis; Colonic responsiveness; STW 5; Cytokines
24.  Ablation of Gly96/Immediate Early Gene-X1 (gly96/iex-1) Aggravates DSS-Induced Colitis in Mice: Role for gly96/iex-1 in the Regulation of NF-κB 
Inflammatory bowel diseases  2010;16(2):320-331.
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) result from environmental and genetic factors and are characterized by an imbalanced immune response in the gut and deregulated activation of the transcription factor NF-κB. Addressing the potential role of gly96/iex-1 in the regulation of NF-κB in IBD, we used the dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) colitis model in mice in which the gly96/iex-1 gene had been deleted.
C57BL/6 mice of gly96/iex-1–/– or gly96/iex-1+/+ genotype were treated continuously with 4% DSS (5 days) and repeatedly with 2% DSS (28 days) for inducing acute and chronic colitis, respectively. In addition to clinical and histological exploration, colon organ culture and bone marrow-derived cells (BMCs) were analyzed for chemo/cytokine expression and NF-κB activation.
Compared to wildtype littermates, gly96/iex-1–/– mice exhibited an aggravated phenotype of both acute and chronic colitis, along with a greater loss of body weight and colon length. Colonic endoscopy revealed a higher degree of hyperemia, edema, and bleeding in gly96/iex-1–/– mice, and immunohistochemistry detected massive mucosal infiltration of leukocytes and marked histological changes. The expression of proinflammatory chemoand cytokines was higher in the colon of DSS-treated gly96/iex-1–/– mice, and the NF-κB activation was enhanced particularly in the distal colon. In cultured BMCs from gly96/iex-1–/– mice, Pam3Cys4 treatment induced expression of proinflammatory medi ators to a higher degree than in gly96/iex-1+/+ BMCs, along with greater NF-κB activation.
Based on the observation that genetic ablation of gly96/iex-1 triggers intestinal inflammation in mice, we demonstrate for the first time that gly96/iex-1 exerts strong antiinflammatory activity via its NF-κB-counterregulatory effect.
PMCID: PMC3927407  PMID: 19714745
intestinal inflammation; signal transduction; cytokines; feedback regulation
25.  Estrogen Receptor-β Protects Against Colitis-Associated Neoplasia in Mice 
Estrogen receptor-beta (ERβ) has been suggested to exert anti-inflammatory and anti-tumorigenic effects in the colon, providing a translational potential to prevent and/or treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and its progression to colitis-associated colorectal cancer (CAC). However, the specific direct role of ERβ in CAC has not yet been tested. We assessed the effects of ERβ deficiency in the azoxymethane (AOM)/dextran sodium sulfate(DSS)-induced CAC model using ERβ knockout (βERKO) mice and wild-type (WT) littermates. These mice were injected with AOM followed by one week of DSS treatment, and sacrificed on weeks 9 or 16.βERKO mice developed more severe clinical colitis compared to WT mice, as evidenced by significantly higher disease activity index after DSS treatment, weight to length ratio of the colons, inflammation score, and grade of dysplasia. ERβ-deficient colons presented greater number and size of polyps at weeks 9 and 16, respectively, and were characterized by a significant increase in interleukin (IL)-6, IL-17, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and interferon-gamma mRNA levels. Furthermore, higher protein expression levels of nuclear factor-kappa B, inducible nitric oxide synthase, β-catenin, proliferating cell nuclear antigen, mucin-1, and significantly lower caveolin-1 and mucin-2 protein levels were shown in βERKO mice compared to WT mice. These data suggested a possible anti-inflammatory and anti-neoplastic mechanism of action of ERβ in CAC. These results demonstrate for the first time that ERβ provides protection in the AOM/DSS-induced CAC model in mice, suggesting a preventive and/or therapeutic potential for the use of ERβ-selective agonists in IBD.
PMCID: PMC3404195  PMID: 22488198
Estrogen receptor-beta; azoxymethane; dextran sodium sulfate; inflammatory bowel disease; colon cancer

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