Myrrh attenuates oxidative and inflammatory processes in acetic acid-induced ulcerative colitis

Exp Ther Med. 2016 Aug;12(2):730-738. doi: 10.3892/etm.2016.3398. Epub 2016 May 26.


The pathogenesis of ulcerative colitis (UC) has been associated with a weakened antioxidant capacity and increased inflammatory processes. Myrrh is traditionally used for the treatment of inflammatory diseases due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The present study aimed to evaluate the effects of myrrh on an experimental rat model of UC. UC was induced in rats using acetic acid (AA) after pre-treatment with myrrh (125, 250 or 500 mg/kg/day) or mesalazine (MES; 300 mg/kg/day) for 7 days. The levels of various inflammatory cytokines, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and nitric oxide (NO) in the rat colon tissues were assessed. In addition, the colonic levels of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) and non-protein sulfhydryl groups (NP-SH), as well as the activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT), were estimated. Furthermore, total protein (TP) contents and the levels of DNA and RNA were measured, and histopathological changes in colonic tissues were analyzed. The results indicated that the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, PGE2, NO and TBARS were markedly increased. By contrast, the levels of interleukin-10, NP-SH, TP and nucleic acids, and the enzymatic activities of SOD and CAT were significantly decreased in the AA model group. In addition, pretreatment with myrrh and MES was able to attenuate the impaired oxidative stress response and upregulation of inflammatory biomarkers. Furthermore, the enzymatic activities of SOD and CAT were near to normal in the myrrh and MES pretreated groups. The ability of myrrh to protect against UC was further confirmed by histopathological analysis, and the high dose of myrrh exerted an effect comparable to MES. In conclusion, the results of the present study suggested that myrrh has potent therapeutic value in the amelioration of experimental colitis in laboratory animals by downregulating the expression of proinflammatory mediators and improving endogenous antioxidative activities.

Keywords: Commiphora molmol; acetic acid; inflammatory bowel diseases; oxidative stress; ulcerative colitis.