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Immunomodulatory and Anti-inflammatory Properties of Artesunate in Experimental Colitis

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Background: Inflammatory bowel disease is a chronic and idiopathic gastrointestinal inflammation mediated by disregulated immune responses. Artemisinin (a chemical from a traditional Chinese herbal medicine Artemisia annua L.) and its derivatives have been proven to exhibit anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects in the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis with low side-effects. This study is aimed to evaluate the potential therapeutic value of artesunate for inflammatory bowel disease. Methods: Murine colitis was induced by either oral administration of dextran sulfate sodium salt (DSS) or intrarectal delivery of 2,4,6- trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS) or oxazolone. Mice were treated with artesunate (150mg/kg/day). Peritoneal macrophages were stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in the presence or absence of artesunate. Changes in cytokines or proteins of interests were analyzed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) or SDS-PAGE/Western blot. Results: Artesunate significantly ameliorated DSS colitis and TNBS colitis (but not oxazolone colitis), including reduced weight loss and disease activity, as well as macroscopic and microscopic colonic injury. The expression of NF-κBp65 and p-IκB-α were reduced in artesunate treated TNBS colitis compared with untreated. The levels of IFN-γ, IL-17, and TNF-α were significantly decreased in artesunate treated TNBS colitis or DSS colitis. Furthermore, in vitro artesunate treatment significantly inhibited TNF-α production by LPS-activated macrophages. Conclusions: Artesunate suppresses TNF-α expression in vitro and in vivo as well as T-helper (Th)1/Th17 responses in TNBS colitis model. Our data suggest a novel clinical application of artesunate as a potential therapy for Crohn's disease.

Keywords: Artesunate; Crohn's disease; NF-κB; TNF-α; animal model; colitis; immunomodulation; inflammatory bowel disease; macrophage; pro-inflammatory cytokines

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2012

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.

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