The role of the resident intestinal flora in acute and chronic dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis in mice

Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2000 Mar;12(3):267-73. doi: 10.1097/00042737-200012030-00002.


Objective: There is increasing evidence that the intestinal microflora plays an important role in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease. In the present study, we examined the role of the resident intestinal flora in our model of dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced acute and chronic colitis in mice.

Methods: Acute colitis was induced in BALB/c mice with 5% DSS in their drinking water for 7 days. Chronic colitis was established after four cycles of feeding 5% DSS for 7 days and water for 10 days. For eliminating intestinal bacteria, mice were injected intraperitoneally with metronidazole and ciprofloxacin. We analysed four parameters: (1) body weight, (2) length of the colon, (3) histological score, and (4) myeloperoxidase activity.

Results: In acute DSS colitis treatment with antibiotics led to an improvement of the histological parameters (epithelial damage, P< 0.05; inflammatory infiltrate, P< 0.05) and colon length (P < 0.0028). A significant reduction in granulocyte infiltration was indicated by a 52.6% reduced myeloperoxidase activity in colonic biopsies. By contrast, in chronic colitis, treatment of mice with antibiotics failed to show significant effects.

Conclusion: In acute DSS-induced colitis bacteria and/or bacterial products play a major role in initiation of inflammation but not in chronic DSS colitis.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biopsy
  • Body Weight
  • Chronic Disease
  • Ciprofloxacin / therapeutic use
  • Colon / microbiology
  • Colon / pathology
  • Dextran Sulfate
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / chemically induced
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / drug therapy
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / microbiology*
  • Interleukins / metabolism
  • Metronidazole / therapeutic use
  • Mice
  • Peroxidase / metabolism


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Interleukins
  • Metronidazole
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Dextran Sulfate
  • Peroxidase