Objectives: Inulin stimulates intracolonic generation of butyrate and growth of lactic acid bacteria. This study investigated whether inulin protects against colitis.
Methods: Rats with dextran sodium sulfate colitis received inulin either orally (1% in drinking water, or 400 mg/day) or by enema. Matched groups received vehicle. In addition, fecal water obtained from inulin-fed rats was administered by enema to rats with colitis and compared with fecal water from control rats. Finally, rats with colitis received daily enemas of either butyrate (at 40 or 80 mmol/L) or vehicle. Inflammation was assessed by eicosanoid asssay in rectal dialysates and MPO activity in colonic tissue. Mucosal lesions were blindly scored by microscopic examination. Luminal pH was measured from cecum to rectum by a surface microelectrode.
Results: Oral inulin prevented inflammation, as evidenced by lower lesion scores (p < 0.05), decreased release of mediators (p < 0.05), and lower tissue MPO (p < 0.05) as compared with controls. Inulin induced acidic environment (pH <7.0) from cecum to left colon and increased counts of lactobacilli. Fecal water from inulin-fed rats also reduced scores (p < 0.05) and inflammation (p < 0.05). However, inulin or butyrate enemas had no effect.
Conclusions: Oral inulin reduces the severity of dextran sodium sulfate colitis. The effect seems to be mediated by modification of the intracolonic milieu.