Effect of toll-like receptor 3 agonist poly I:C on intestinal mucosa and epithelial barrier function in mouse models of acute colitis

Hong-Wei Zhao, Yue-Hong Yue, Hua Han, Xiu-Li Chen, Yong-Gang Lu, Ji-Min Zheng, Hong-Tao Hou, Xiao-Meng Lang, Li-Li He, Qi-Lu Hu, Zi-Qian Dun
World Journal of Gastroenterology: WJG 2017 February 14, 23 (6): 999-1009

AIM: To investigate potential effects of poly I:C on mucosal injury and epithelial barrier disruption in dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced acute colitis.

METHODS: Thirty C57BL/6 mice were given either regular drinking water (control group) or 2% (w/v) DSS drinking water (model and poly I:C groups) ad libitum for 7 d. Poly I:C was administrated subcutaneously (20 μg/mouse) 2 h prior to DSS induction in mice of the poly I:C group. Severity of colitis was evaluated by disease activity index, body weight, colon length, histology and myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity, as well as the production of proinflammatory cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin 17 (IL-17) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ). Intestinal permeability was analyzed by the fluorescein isothiocyanate labeled-dextran (FITC-D) method. Ultrastructural features of the colon tissue were observed under electron microscopy. Expressions of tight junction (TJ) proteins, including zo-1, occludin and claudin-1, were measured by immunohistochemistry/immunofluorescence, Western blot and real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR).

RESULTS: DSS caused significant damage to the colon tissue in the model group. Administration of poly I:C dramatically protected against DSS-induced colitis, as demonstrated by less body weight loss, lower disease activity index score, longer colon length, colonic MPO activity, and improved macroscopic and histological scores. It also ameliorated DSS-induced ultrastructural changes of the colon epithelium, as observed under scanning electron microscopy, as well as FITC-D permeability. The mRNA and protein expressions of TJ protein, zo-1, occludin and claudin-1 were also found to be significantly enhanced in the poly I:C group, as determined by immunohistochemistry/immunofluorescence, Western blot and RT-qPCR. By contrast, poly I:C pretreatment markedly reversed the DSS-induced up-regulated expressions of the inflammatory cytokines TNF-α, IL-17 and IFN-γ.

CONCLUSION: Our study suggested that poly I:C may protect against DSS-induced colitis through maintaining integrity of the epithelial barrier and regulating innate immune responses, which may shed light on the therapeutic potential of poly I:C in human colitis.

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