Published online Jul 28, 2018. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v24.i28.3130
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
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.
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.
The aim of this work is to investigate the effect and mechanism of moxibustion on gut microbiota in UC rats.
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.
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.
Our findings suggest that moxibustion exerts its therapeutic effect by modulating the microbiome and intestinal mucosal immunity.
The present study may provide a certain experimental basis and scientific basis for the clinical curative effect of the treatment of UC.