Astragalus Plant Extracts as a Potential Remedy for Ulcerative Colitis

Jim Crocker
25th May, 2024

Astragalus Plant Extracts as a Potential Remedy for Ulcerative Colitis

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at Lanzhou University, China, found that Astragalus polysaccharides (APS1) significantly alleviate ulcerative colitis (UC) symptoms
  • APS1 promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and improves the integrity of the intestinal mucosal barrier
  • APS1 reduces inflammatory markers and corrects gut microbial imbalances, supporting overall gut health and reducing inflammation
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the intestine that has been closely linked to imbalances in the gut microbiota. A recent study conducted by researchers at Lanzhou University, China, has explored the potential therapeutic effects of Astragalus membranaceus polysaccharides on UC[1]. This study aimed to identify specific active constituents and their mechanistic pathways, focusing on two molecular weight fractions of Astragalus polysaccharides (APS): APS1 (Mw < 10 kDa) and APS2 (10 kDa < Mw < 50 kDa). The study demonstrated that both APS1 and APS2 possess prebiotic properties, which means they can promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. However, APS1 was found to be significantly more effective in alleviating UC symptoms compared to APS2. APS1 not only reduced weight loss and UC manifestations but also improved the integrity of the intestinal mucosal barrier. This is crucial because a compromised mucosal barrier can lead to the translocation of harmful substances from the gut into the bloodstream, exacerbating inflammation[2]. The researchers observed that APS1 significantly decreased the levels of inflammatory cytokines in both serum and colonic tissue. Cytokines are signaling proteins that mediate and regulate immunity and inflammation. High levels of inflammatory cytokines are a hallmark of UC, and their reduction is indicative of an ameliorated inflammatory response. Additionally, APS1 downregulated colonic chemokines, which are molecules that attract immune cells to sites of inflammation, thereby further reducing inflammatory responses. One of the standout findings of this study was the ability of APS1 to correct dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced intestinal dysbiosis. Dysbiosis refers to an imbalance in the microbial community within the gut, which has been associated with various gastrointestinal diseases, including UC[3]. APS1 promoted the growth of beneficial microbes such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium while inhibiting potential pathogens. This shift in the microbial population led to a significant increase in short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are beneficial metabolites known to support gut health and reduce inflammation[4]. The findings of this study align with previous research that has highlighted the role of gut microbiota in metabolic and inflammatory diseases. For instance, alterations in the intestinal microbiota and its metabolites have been shown to contribute to metabolic inflammation and disorders such as obesity and type 2 diabetes[2]. Similarly, gut microbiota dysbiosis has been consistently associated with inflammatory bowel diseases like UC[3]. By promoting beneficial gut bacteria and reducing harmful ones, APS1 appears to restore a healthier gut environment, thereby mitigating UC symptoms. In summary, the study from Lanzhou University underscores the potential of APS1 as a novel prebiotic for the prevention and treatment of UC. By enhancing the growth of beneficial microbes, improving intestinal barrier integrity, and reducing inflammatory markers, APS1 offers a promising therapeutic approach for managing this chronic inflammatory disease.



Main Study

1) Functional fractions of Astragalus polysaccharides as a potential prebiotic to alleviate ulcerative colitis.

Published 22nd May, 2024

Related Studies

2) The intestinal microbiota fuelling metabolic inflammation.

3) The microbiome in inflammatory bowel diseases: from pathogenesis to therapy.

4) Probiotics and prebiotics in intestinal health and disease: from biology to the clinic.

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