Saffron Pre-Treatment Promotes Reduction in Tissue Inflammatory Profiles and Alters Microbiome Composition in Experimental Colitis Mice.
Molecules. 2021 Jun 2 ;26(11). Epub 2021 Jun 2. PMID: 34199466
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract with an incompletely understood pathogenesis. Long-standing colitis is associated with increased risk of colon cancer. Despite the availability of various anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory drugs, many patients fail to respond to pharmacologic therapy and some experience drug-induced adverse events. Dietary supplements, particularly saffron (), have recently gained an appreciable attention in alleviating some symptoms of digestive diseases. In our study, we investigated whether saffron may have a prophylactic effect in a murine colitis model. Saffron pre-treatment improved the gross and histopathological characteristics of the colonic mucosa in murine experimental colitis. Treatment with saffron showed a significant amelioration of colitis when compared to the vehicle-treated mice group. Saffron treatment significantly decreased secretion of serotonin and pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6, in the colon tissues by suppressing the nuclear translocation of NF-κB. The gut microbiome analysis revealed distinct clusters in the saffron-treated and untreated mice in dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis by visualization of the Bray-Curtis diversity by principal coordinates analysis (PCoA). Furthermore, we observed that, at the operational taxonomic unit (OTU) level, Cyanobacteria were depleted, while short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), such as isobutyric acid, acetic acid, and propionic acid, were increased in saffron-treated mice. Our data suggest that pre-treatment with saffron inhibits DSS-induced pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion, modulates gut microbiota composition, prevents the depletion of SCFAs, and reduces the susceptibility to colitis.