Tojapride Reverses Esophageal Epithelial Inflammatory Responses on Reflux Esophagitis Model Rats

Xiao Lan Yin, Linda Zhong, Cheng Yuan Lin, Xiao Shuang Shi, Jiao Zhang, Zheng Yi Chen, Hui Che, Xiang Xue Ma, Ya Xin Tian, Yuan Zhi Duan, Lin Lu, Hai Jie Ji, Ying Pan Zhao, Xu Dong Tang, Feng Yun Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To investigate the mechanism of Tojapride, a Chinese herbal formula extract, on strengthening the barrier function of esophageal epithelium in rats with reflux esophagitis (RE).

Methods: Ten out of 85 SD rats were randomly selected as the sham group (n10), and 75 rats were developed a reflux esophagitis model (RE) by the esophageal and duodenal side-to-side anastomosis. Fifty successful modeling rats were divided into different medicated groups through a random number table including the model, low-, medium-, and high-dose of Tojapride as well as omeprazole groups (n10). Three doses of Tojapride [5.73, 11.46, 22.92 g/(kg•d)] and omeprazole [4.17 mg/(kg•d)] were administrated intragastrically twice daily for 3 weeks. And the rats in the sham and model groups were administered 10 mL/kg distilled water. Gastric fluid was collected and the supernatant was kept to measure for volume, pH value and acidity. Esophageal tissues were isolated to monitor the morphological changes through hematoxylin-eosin (HE) staining, and esophageal epithelial ultrastructure was observed by transmission electron microscopy. The expressions of nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells p65 (NF-KBp65), κB kinase beta (IKKß), occludin, and zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1) in the esophageal tissues were measured by immunohistochemistry and Western blot, respectively.

Results: The gastric pH value in the model group was significantly lower than the sham group (P<0.05). Compared with the model group, gastric pH value in the omeprazole and medium-dose of Tojapride groups were significantly higher (P<0.05). A large area of ulceration was found on the esophageal mucosa from the model rats, while varying degrees of congestion and partially visible erosion was observed in the remaining groups. Remarkable increase in cell gap width and decrease in desmosome count was seen in RE rats and the effect was reversed by Tojapride treatment. Compared with the sham group, the IKKß levels were significantly higher in the model group (P<0.05). However, the IKKß levels were down-regulated after treatment by all doses of Tojapride (P<0.01 or P<0.05). The occluding and ZO-1 levels decreased in the model group compared with the sham group (Ps0.01 or Ps0.05), while both indices were significantly up-regulated in the Tojapride-treated groups (P<0.01 or P<0.05).

Conclusions: Tojapride could improve the pathological conditions of esophageal epithelium in RE rats. The underlying mechanisms may involve in down-regulating the IKKß expression and elevating ZO-1 and occludin expression, thereby alleviating the inflammation of the esophagus and strengthening the barrier function of the esophageal epithelium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)604–612
Number of pages9
JournalChinese Journal of Integrative Medicine
Issue number8
Early online date4 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)

User-Defined Keywords

  • anti-inflammatory
  • esophageal epithelial barrier
  • reflux-esophagitis
  • tojapride


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