Suppression of dextran sodium sulfate-induced colitis in mice by zerumbone, a subtropical ginger sesquiterpene, and nimesulide: separately and in combination

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Ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease are inflammatory disorders of unknown cause and difficult to treat, though some synthetic chemicals, including ligands for peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs), are anticipated to be useful drugs. In contrast, few food phytochemicals have been reported to suppress colitis in animal models. The present study was undertaken to explore the suppressive efficacy of zerumbone (ZER), a sesquiterpenoid present in the rhizome of Zingiber zerumbet Smith that is used as a condiment in Southeast Asian countries and known to be a potent suppressant of cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 and inducible nitric oxide synthase expression in cell culture systems. Acute colitis was induced by exposing female ICR mice to 5% DSS in drinking water for 1 week. One week prior to DSS administration, the experimental mice were fed ZER alone, nimesulide (NIM, a selective COX-2 inhibitor) alone, or both in combination (1000 ppm each) for a total of 2 weeks. Inflammatory biomarkers, i.e. interleukin (IL)-1α and IL-1β, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, and prostaglandin (PG)E2 and PGF in colonic mucosa were quantified by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in conjunction with histological alterations. Oral feeding of ZER significantly lowered the levels of IL-1β [inhibitory rate (IR)=34%], TNF-α (IR=29%), and PGE2 (IR=73%) and suppressed DSS-induced colitis, whereas NIM suppressed the histological changes induced by DSS without affecting inflammatory biomarkers. However, their treatment in combination was most effective for suppressing these biomarkers. Our results suggest that ZER is a novel food factor for mitigating experimental UC and that use of a combination of agents, with different modes of actions, may be an effective anti-inflammatory strategy.

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