Background: Evidence has shown that the traditional Chinese herbal medicine Wu Mei Wan has a protective effect on ulcerative colitis. Here, we studied the anti-inflammatory effects and potential mechanisms of Wu Mei Wan on chronic colitis in mice.
Methods: A dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced chronic colitis model and CD45RBhighCD4+ T cell transfer model were established in mice. Body weight, Disease Activity Index, and colon length were assessed, and histopathology was confirmed by hematoxylin and eosin staining.
Colon tissue samples were collected to detect the frequencies of various immune cells, expression of cytokines, and tight junction-related proteins using flow cytometry, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, respectively. 16S ribosomal DNA sequencing was performed to distinguish differential microbiota of fecal samples.
Results: Severe chronic colitis was observed in mice after DSS exposure and in Rag1-/- mice reconstituted with CD45RBhighCD4+ T cells, as manifested by weight loss, hematochezia, and shortening and thickening of the colon, which were reversed by Wu Mei Wan treatment. Wu Mei Wan markedly suppressed intestinal mucosal CD4+ T cell differentiation and the secretion of proinflammatory cytokines (eg, tumor necrosis factor α, interleukin-1β, interferon γ, and IL-17A) by flow cytometry, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, respectively.
Moreover, Wu Mei Wan promoted the expression of occludin, zonula occludens-1, and E-cadherin, thereby maintaining the epithelial barrier function. Additionally, 16S ribosomal DNA sequencing revealed that Wu Mei Wan regulated the dysbiosis of gut microbiota in CD45RBhighCD4+ T cell-reconstituted Rag1-/- mice, evidenced by an increase of Allobaculum and Bacteroides and a decrease of Ileibacterium.
Conclusions: Wu Mei Wan ameliorates chronic colitis in mice induced by DSS or reconstituted with CD45RBhighCD4+ T cells through suppressing Th1/Th17 cell differentiation and the secretion of proinflammatory cytokines, maintaining epithelial barrier function, and improving the dysbiosis.