Hericium erinaceus (HE), a traditional edible mushroom, is known as a medicine food homology to ameliorate gastrointestinal diseases. To investigate whether HE is clinically effective in alleviating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), HE extracts (polysaccharide, alcoholic extracts and whole extracts were prepared using solvent extraction methods) were administrated for 2 weeks in rats with IBD induced by trinitro-benzene-sulfonic acid (TNBS) enema (150 mg/kg). Significant clinical and histological changes in IBD rats were identified, including damage activity, common morphous and tissue damage index scores in colonic mucosa and myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity. The damage activity, common morphous and tissue damage index scores in colonic mucosa (P <0.05) were improved, MPO activities were decreased. Inflammatory factors were also differentially expressed in colonic mucosa in IBD rats, including serum cytokines, Foxp3 and interleukin (IL)-10 were increased while NF-κB p65 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α were decreased (P <0.05), and T cells were activated (P <0.05), especially in the alcohol extracts-treated group. We also found that the structure of gut microbiota of the H. erinaceus extracts-treated groups changed significantly by compared with the model group. Further studies revealed that the polysaccharides in HE extracts may play a prebiotic role, whereas the alcoholic extracts show bactericidin-like and immunomodulatory effects. Taken together, we demonstrated that H. erinaceus extracts could promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and improve the host immunity in vivo IBD model, which shows clinical potential in relieving IBD by regulating gut microbiota and immune system.
Keywords: Hericium erinaceus; anti-inflammatory; gut microbiota; immune-enhancing effect; inflammatory bowel disease.