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World J Gastroenterol. 2005 Oct 7;11(37):5787-94.

Amelioration of experimental colitis by Astragalus membranaceus through anti-oxidation and inhibition of adhesion molecule synthesis.

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School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong, China.



To investigate the protective effects of Astragalus membranaceus (Am) against hapten-induced colitis in male Sprague-Dawley rats as well as its underlying mechanism.


Experimental colitis was induced in rats by enema administration of 2,4-dinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (DNBS). Rats were either pretreated with Am extract (2 or 4 g/kg, p.o. once daily) starting from 10 d before DNBS enema, or received Am post-treatment (2 or 4 g/kg, p.o. twice daily) on the three consecutive days following DNBS administration. Colonic lesion area and histological damage were determined, while the activities of myeloperoxidase (MPO) and xanthine oxidase, as well as reduced glutathione (GSH) content were measured in the excised colonic tissues. Besides, protein expression of inducible nitrite oxide synthase (iNOS), intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and P-selectin was also detected by Western blot analysis.


Our findings had shown that both macroscopic lesion area and histological colonic damage induced by DNBS were significantly reduced by both Am pre- and post-treatments. These were accompanied by attenuation of the elevated colonic MPO activity and downregulation of the iNOS, P-selectin, and ICAM-1 protein expression. Besides, deprivation of colonic GSH level under colitis condition was also preserved.


These results demonstrate that Am possesses both preventive and therapeutic potential in experimental colitis. The anti-inflammatory actions involve anti-oxidation along with inhibition of adhesion molecule synthesis in the colonic tissues.

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