Immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties of artesunate in experimental colitis

Z. Yang, J. Ding, C. Yang, Y. Gao, X. Li, X. Chen, Y. Peng, J. Fang, S. Xiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Inflammatory bowel disease is a chronic and idiopathic gastrointestinal inflammation mediated by disregulated immune responses. Artemisinin (a chemical from a traditional Chinese herbal medicine Artemisia annua L.) and its derivatives have been proven to exhibit anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects in the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis with low side-effects. This study is aimed to evaluate the potential therapeutic value of artesunate for inflammatory bowel disease. Methods: Murine colitis was induced by either oral administration of dextran sulfate sodium salt (DSS) or intrarectal delivery of 2,4,6-trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS) or oxazolone. Mice were treated with artesunate (150mg/kg/day). Peritoneal macrophages were stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in the presence or absence of artesunate. Changes in cytokines or proteins of interests were analyzed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) or SDS-PAGE/Western blot. Results: Artesunate significantly ameliorated DSS colitis and TNBS colitis (but not oxazolone colitis), including reduced weight loss and disease activity, as well as macroscopic and microscopic colonic injury. The expression of NF-tcBp65 and p-ItcB-a were reduced in artesunate treated TNBS colitis compared with untreated. The levels of IFN-γ, IL-17, and TNF-a were significantly decreased in artesunate treated TNBS colitis or DSS colitis. Furthermore, in vitro artesunate treatment significantly inhibited TNF-α production by LPS-activated macrophages. Conclusions: Artesunate suppresses TNF-a expression in vitro and in vivo as well as T-helper (Th)1/Th17 responses in TNBS colitis model. Our data suggest a novel clinical application of artesunate as a potential therapy for Crohn's disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4541-4551
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent medicinal chemistry
Issue number26
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Animal model
  • Artesunate
  • Colitis
  • Crohn's disease
  • Immunomodulation
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Macrophage
  • NF-KB
  • Pro-inflammatory cytokines
  • TNF-a

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Organic Chemistry


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