Tong-Xie-Yao-Fang improves intestinal permeability in diarrhoea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome rats by inhibiting the NF-κB and notch signalling pathways

Qiuke Hou, Yongquan Huang, Zhaoyang Zhu, Liu Liao, Xinlin Chen, Quanbin Han*, Fengbin Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Tong-Xie-Yao-Fang (TXYF) has been shown to be effective in diarrhoea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D) patients. However, the underlying mechanism remains to be clarified. The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy and related mechanisms of TXYF in an IBS-D rat model.

Methods: The IBS-D rat model was established with 4% acetic acid and evaluated by haematoxylin-eosin (HE) staining. Then, IBS-D rats were divided into control, TXYF and rifaximin groups and treated intragastrically with normal saline, TXYF and rifaximin, respectively, for 14 days. The following indicators were measured before and after treatment: defecation frequency, faecal water content (FWC) and colorectal distension (CRD). Histopathological changes in the distal colon were observed after treatment. The expression of OCLN and ZO1 in the distal colon of IBS-D rats reflected the intestinal mucosal permeability, as measured by qRT-PCR, western blot, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs). The NF-κB and Notch signalling pathways and inflammation-related factors were investigated.

Results: After treatment with TXYF, the defecation frequency, FWC and CRD were significantly lower than those in the model group (P < 0.05). HE staining showed that colonic epithelial cells (CECs) in the IBS-D rats displayed significant oedema, impaired intestinal mucosal integrity and an increased influx of inflammatory cells. A significant reduction in granulocyte and CEC oedema was observed after the administration of TXYF and rifaximin compared to that of the model group and blank group (P < 0.05). TXYF significantly upregulated the expression of OCLN and ZO-1 and downregulated inflammation-related factors (IL-6, IL-1β, and TNF-α and the chemokine KC) in IBS-D rats compared to those in the model group rats (P < 0.05). In terms of the NF-κB and Notch signalling pathways, the expression of NICD, p-ERK, Hes-1 and p-P65 decreased significantly in the TXYF and rifaximin groups, while the expression of ATOH1 increased significantly compared to that in the model group (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: TXYF can effectively improve intestinal permeability and enhance intestinal mucosal barrier function, which may be related to inhibition of the inflammatory cascade and the NF-κB and Notch signalling pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Article number337
JournalBMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine

User-Defined Keywords

  • Diarrhoea predominant-irritable bowel syndrome
  • Intestinal permeability
  • NF-κB Signalling
  • Notch Signalling
  • Tong-Xie-Yao-fang


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