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Therapeutic Potential of Curcumin in a Rat Model of Dextran Sulfate Sodium–Induced Ulcerative Colitis by Regulating the Balance of Treg/Th17 Cells


The pathogenesis of ulcerative colitis (UC) remains unclear, and it is believed that an imbalance of regulatory T (Treg) cells and T helper 17 (Th17) cells is related to the occurrence of UC. Curcumin has been confirmed to exert anti-inflammatory effects in bronchial asthma and osteoarthritis by regulating the balance of Treg/Th17 cells. This study aimed to explore the therapeutic potential of curcumin in dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)–induced UC rats by regulating the balance of Treg/Th17 cells. Disease activity index (DAI) scores were calculated. Changes in colon inflammation were observed using hematoxylin and eosin staining. Treg and Th17 cells in the spleen were detected by flow cytometry, and the levels of interleukin (IL)-10 and IL-17A were determined using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. In DSS-induced colitis, curcumin significantly ameliorated colitis symptoms by reducing the DAI and increasing colon length. Additionally, curcumin significantly increased the expression of Treg cells and decreased the expression of Th17 cells and the extent of histopathological damage. Furthermore, curcumin increased the expression of IL-10 and decreased the expression of IL-17A. Curcumin attenuates DSS-induced UC injury by regulating Treg/Th17 balance and related cytokine secretion. Thus, curcumin may be a promising therapeutic drug for treating UC.

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We thank Li-yun Wang for guiding the writing of this article.


This work was supported by grants from Ling-fen Xu (Natural Science Foundation of Liaoning Province, China, 2019-MS-372, Science and Technology Plan of Liaoning Province, 2021JH2/10300094), and 345 Talent Project from Jing Guo.

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Authors and Affiliations



Jing Guo performed the experiment and wrote the paper, Yan-yan Zhang performed the experiments and collected the data, Mei Sun performed the statistics, and Ling-fen Xu provided overall guidance.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ling-fen Xu.

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The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Affiliated Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University (approval no. 2015PS244K, Shenyang, China).

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Guo, J., Zhang, Yy., Sun, M. et al. Therapeutic Potential of Curcumin in a Rat Model of Dextran Sulfate Sodium–Induced Ulcerative Colitis by Regulating the Balance of Treg/Th17 Cells. Inflammation (2022).

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  • Curcumin
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Regulatory T cell
  • Th17 cell
  • Th17
  • Treg balance
  • Inflammatory bowel disease.