Published online Aug 14, 2018. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v24.i30.3384
Peer-review started: May 9, 2018
First decision: June 15, 2018
Revised: June 22, 2018
Accepted: June 30, 2018
Article in press: June 30, 2018
Published online: August 14, 2018
The imbalance of cytokines modulated by activated immunocytes has been verified as an initial factor inducing inflammatory injuries in ulcerative colitis (UC). Herb-partitioned moxibustion (HPM), a non-drug external therapy, produces valid efficacy in treating UC, but its potential mechanism is still unclear.
The action mechanism of HPM was explored by using high throughout analysis of cytokine expression profiles in the colon and their network effects in our research.
By identifying the key cytokines in the action of HPM and analyzing their signal pathways, our research aimed to provide research ideas and crucial targets for further elaboration of the anti-inflammation mechanism of HPM in treating UC.
A UC rat model was established by protein immunization in combination with topical chemical stimulation. Rats in the HPM group received HPM at bilateral Tianshu (ST25) points. The expression profile of colonic cytokines was assayed using the protein microarray technique.
Seventy-seven down-regulated and nine up-regulated differentially-expressed colonic cytokines were found in the HPM group. Functional cluster analysis showed that the differentially-expressed colonic cytokines in the HPM group regulated apoptosis and protein phosphorylation. KEGG pathway analysis showed that the pathways interacting between the cytokines and their receptors accounted for the largest proportion (28 of 52 down-regulated cytokines and 5 of 7 up-regulated cytokines).
HPM promotes the repair of colon injuries in UC rats, which is related to the regulation of several abnormally-expressed cytokines.
By functional cluster and KEGG pathway analyses, this study selected specific differential cytokines in HPM treatment of UC, which can provide potential targets for targeted therapy in the future and also research ideas for further elaboration of signal pathways in the action of HPM for UC. The results showed that the signal pathways interacting between cytokines and their receptors were closely related to the action of HPM, and the MAPK signaling pathway and JAK/STAT signaling pathway were possibly involved in the anti-inflammation process of HPM for colitis. A focus on this field may help better understand the mechanism of moxibustion in treating UC.