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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.  Dietary supplementation with probiotics during late pregnancy: outcome on vaginal microbiota and cytokine secretion 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:236.
The vaginal microbiota of healthy women consists of a wide variety of anaerobic and aerobic bacterial genera and species dominated by the genus Lactobacillus. The activity of lactobacilli helps to maintain the natural healthy balance of the vaginal microbiota. This role is particularly important during pregnancy because vaginal dismicrobism is one of the most important mechanisms for preterm birth and perinatal complications. In the present study, we characterized the impact of a dietary supplementation with the probiotic VSL#3, a mixture of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus strains, on the vaginal microbiota and immunological profiles of healthy women during late pregnancy.
An association between the oral intake of the probiotic VSL#3 and changes in the composition of the vaginal microbiota of pregnant women was revealed by PCR-DGGE population profiling. Despite no significant changes were found in the amounts of the principal vaginal bacterial populations in women administered with VSL#3, qPCR results suggested a potential role of the probiotic product in counteracting the decrease of Bifidobacterium and the increase of Atopobium, that occurred in control women during late pregnancy. The modulation of the vaginal microbiota was associated with significant changes in some vaginal cytokines. In particular, the decrease of the anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-4 and IL-10 was observed only in control women but not in women supplemented with VSL#3. In addition, the probiotic consumption induced the decrease of the pro-inflammatory chemokine Eotaxin, suggesting a potential anti-inflammatory effect on the vaginal immunity.
Dietary supplementation with the probiotic VSL#3 during the last trimester of pregnancy was associated to a modulation of the vaginal microbiota and cytokine secretion, with potential implications in preventing preterm birth.
Trial registration NCT01367470
PMCID: PMC3493352  PMID: 23078375
3.  RNAi-Based Strategies for Cyclooxygenase-2 Inhibition in Cancer 
Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme has been involved in the tumorigenesis and in the progression of colorectal cancer (CRC). The use of traditional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or selective COX-2 inhibitors has been proposed for the prevention and the treatment of this relevant neoplastic disease. In the light of an innovative alternative to these pharmacological approaches, we review here the possible strategies to achieve a strong and selective inhibition of COX-2 enzyme by using the mechanism of RNA Interference (RNAi) targeted against its mRNA. Anti-COX-2 siRNA molecules (siCOX-2) can be generated in CRC cells from short hairpin RNA (shRNA) precursors, delivered in vitro by a retroviral expression system, and induce a significant and stable silencing of overexpressed COX-2 in human colon cancer cells. As a safer alternative to viral approach, nonpathogenic bacteria (E. coli) can be engineered to invade eukaryotic cells and to generate siCOX-2 molecules in cancer cells. Moreover, the involvement of miRNAs in COX-2 posttranscriptional regulation opens up the possibility to exploit an endogenous silencing mechanism to knockdown overexpressed COX-2. Thus, these recent strategies disclose new challenging perspectives for the development of clinically compatible siRNA or miRNA capable of selectively inhibiting COX-2 enzyme.
PMCID: PMC2896898  PMID: 20625420

Results 1-3 (3)