The plant sterol guggulsterone attenuates inflammation and immune dysfunction in murine models of inflammatory bowel disease

Biochem Pharmacol. 2009 Nov 1;78(9):1214-23. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2009.06.026. Epub 2009 Jun 23.


Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are chronic inflammatory and relapsing diseases of the gut that may manifest as either Crohn's disease (CD) or ulcerative colitis (UC). CD and UC are immunologically different diseases characterized by exacerbated Th1 and Th2 response. T-cell resistance against apoptosis contributes to inappropriate T-cell accumulation and the perpetuation of chronic mucosal inflammation. In the present study we have investigated the effect exerted by guggulsterone (GS) a plant derived steroid isolated from the gum resin of the Commiphora mukul tree, in two models of intestinal inflammation induced in mice by trinitro-benzene sulfonic acid (TNBS) and oxazolone. We provided evidence that E-GS protects mice against development of sign and symptoms of colon inflammation. E-GS effectively attenuated the severity of wasting disease and the fecal score and colon inflammation as assessed by measuring the macroscopic- and microscopic-damage scores. Administration Z-GS failed to ameliorate colon inflammation in TNBS-induced colitis and had a partial effect in oxazolone-induced colitis. In vitro, mechanistic studies carried out using CD4+ cells isolated from the intestinal lamina propria demonstrate that GS effectively regulates the function of effector T cells by modulating cell signaling activation pathway caused by CD3/CD28. The net biological effects resulting from exposure to GS includes attenuation of generation of interleukin-2 and -4 and interferon-gamma as well as T cell proliferation. In conclusion, GS is an anti-inflammatory compound with the capacity to prevent and ameliorate T-cell-induced colitis. These data ground the use of GS, a natural cholesterol-lowering agent, in the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Colitis / drug therapy*
  • Colitis / pathology
  • DNA Primers
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, SCID
  • Plants / chemistry*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Pregnenediones / therapeutic use*


  • DNA Primers
  • Pregnenediones
  • pregna-4,17-diene-3,16-dione