Intestinal mucosal barrier dysfunction associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Effects of Bacillus subtilis on epithelial tight junctions (TJs) and intrinsic regulatory mechanisms of the intestine were studied in pursuit of better treatments for IBD. Fifty Balb/c mice given 5% dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) in tap water ad libitum over a 7-day period (to induce colitis) were randomly assigned to 4 test groups [DSS, DSS+B. subtilis, DSS+5 amino salicylic acid (5ASA), and DSS+B. subtilis+5ASA] to compare with normal controls. In the test groups DSS was administered daily by oral gavage in normal saline (0.2 mL), adding B. subtilis (1 × 10(8) CFU), 5ASA (6 mg), or both for respective test groups. Defecation, body weight, colitis score, pathological features, epithelial TJs proteins [claudin-1, occludin, junctional adhesion molecule (JAM)-A, and zona occludens (ZO)-1], and various cytokines [interleukin (IL)-6, IL-17, IL-23, and tissue necrosis factor (TNF)-α] were evaluated. Relative to the DSS group, disease activity index scores, and graded histologic damage were all significantly reduced by B. subtilis intake. All parameters declined even further when B. subtilis and 5ASA were combined. Analytic testing (immunohistochemical, western blot, and PCR) revealed progressive increase in TJ protein (claudin-1, occludin, JAM-A, and ZO-1) expression in DSS, DSS+B. subtilis, DSS+5ASA, DSS+B. subtilis+5ASA, and normal control groups (P < 0.05), whereas cytokine (IL-6, IL-17, IL-23, and TNF-α) expression similarly declined (P < 0.05). B. subtilis intake upregulated expression of TJ proteins (claudin-1, occludin, JAM-A, and ZO-1), for improved barrier function, and downregulated cytokine expression (IL-6, IL-17, IL-23, and TNF-α) to reduce intestinal epithelial damage.