Basic Study
Copyright ©The Author(s) 2018. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Gastroenterol. Jul 28, 2018; 24(28): 3130-3144
Published online Jul 28, 2018. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v24.i28.3130
Moxibustion treatment modulates the gut microbiota and immune function in a dextran sulphate sodium-induced colitis rat model
Qin Qi, Ya-Nan Liu, Xiao-Ming Jin, Lin-Shuang Zhang, Cun Wang, Chun-Hui Bao, Hui-Rong Liu, Huan-Gan Wu, Xiao-Mei Wang
Qin Qi, Ya-Nan Liu, Cun Wang, Yueyang Clinical Medical College, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200437, China
Xiao-Ming Jin, Stark Neurosciences Research Institute and Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN 46202, United States
Lin-Shuang Zhang, Zhejiang Institute for Food and Drug Control, Hangzhou 310052, Zhejiang Province, China
Chun-Hui Bao, Hui-Rong Liu, Huan-Gan Wu, Xiao-Mei Wang, Shanghai Research Institute of Acupuncture-moxibustion and Meridian, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200030, China
Author contributions: Wang XM conceived and designed the study; Qi Q and Wang XM wrote the main manuscript text; Qi Q and Liu YN performed animal experiments; Jin XM collected data; Wang C and Bao CH analysed data; Liu HR and Wu HG prepared figures and tables; Jin XM and Zhang LS edited and improved the manuscript; all authors reviewed the manuscript.
Supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China, No. 81473758; and National Basic Research Programme of China (973 programme), No. 2015CB554500.
Institutional review board statement: The study was reviewed and approved by the Ethics Committee of Yueyang Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Institutional animal care and use committee statement: All procedures involving animals were reviewed and approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (IACUC protocol number: 201611006).
Conflict-of-interest statement: To the best of our knowledge, no conflict of interest exists.
Data sharing statement: No additional data are available.
ARRIVE guidelines statement: The authors have read the ARRIVE guidelines, and the manuscript was prepared and revised according to the ARRIVE guidelines.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article which was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Correspondence to: Xiao-Mei Wang, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Shanghai Research Institute of Acupuncture-moxibustion and Meridian, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 650 South Wanping Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai 200030, China.
Telephone: +86-21-64381106
Received: April 9, 2018
Peer-review started: April 9, 2018
First decision: May 9, 2018
Revised: May 22, 2018
Accepted: June 25, 2018
Article in press: June 25, 2018
Published online: July 28, 2018
Research background

The aetiology and pathogenesis of ulcerative colitis (UC) are not clear. In recent years, there has been growing evidence that the gut microbiota has a key role in the development of UC. Our previous study has shown that there are an imbalanced states of the beneficial bacteria Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and harmful bacteria E. coli and Fusobacterium in the intestine of UC rats, and moxibustion can regulate the balance of beneficial bacteria and harmful bacteria in the intestine of UC rats.

Research motivation

Many studies have confirmed the efficacy of moxibustion in UC, however, the role of gut microbiota in the pathogenesis of UC and the role of moxibustion in the regulation of the UC gut microbiota remain unclear.

Research objectives

The aim of this work is to investigate the effect and mechanism of moxibustion on gut microbiota in UC rats.

Research methods

UC was induced with 4% DSS in drinking water for seven consecutive days. Moxibustion was applied to the Tianshu (ST25, bilateral). Haematoxylin and eosin staining was assessed to evaluate the changes in the colon histopathology. Gut microbiome profiling was conducted by 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing, and PCR and ELISA determined the expression of inflammatory cytokines.

Research results

Compared with the healthy controls (HC) group, the UC group had increased histopathological scores. After treatment, the scores were decreased in the UC-7, UC-14, UC-W, HC-7 and HC-14 groups compared with those in the UC group. The relative abundance of some of the bacteria in the UC group was changed at both the phylum, family and genus level. In addition, UC rats had reduced alpha diversity, which all could be alleviated by moxibustion therapy. Moxibustion can significantly reduce the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6, IL-12, IL-17, IL-23, IFN-γ, LPS, TNF-α, TNFR1 and TNFR2 and increase anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-2 and TGF-β in rats with ulcerative colitis and reduce the intestinal inflammation.

Research conclusions

Our findings suggest that moxibustion exerts its therapeutic effect by modulating the microbiome and intestinal mucosal immunity.

Research perspectives

The present study may provide a certain experimental basis and scientific basis for the clinical curative effect of the treatment of UC.