Early-life fingolimod treatment improves intestinal homeostasis and pancreatic immune tolerance in non-obese diabetic mice

Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2021 Oct;42(10):1620-1629. doi: 10.1038/s41401-020-00590-4. Epub 2021 Jan 20.


Fingolimod has beneficial effects on multiple diseases, including type 1 diabetes (T1D) and numerous preclinical models of colitis. Intestinal dysbiosis and intestinal immune dysfunction contribute to disease pathogenesis of T1D. Thus, the beneficial effect of fingolimod on T1D may occur via the maintenance of intestinal homeostasis to some extent. Herein, we investigated the role of fingolimod in intestinal dysfunction in non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice and possible mechanisms. NOD mice were treated with fingolimod (1 mg · kg-1 per day, i.g.) from weaning (3-week-old) to 31 weeks of age. We found that fingolimod administration significantly enhanced the gut barrier (evidenced by enhanced expression of tight junction proteins and reduced intestinal permeability), attenuated intestinal microbial dysbiosis (evidenced by the reduction of enteric pathogenic Proteobacteria clusters), as well as intestinal immune dysfunction (evidenced by inhibition of CD4+ cells activation, reduction of T helper type 1 cells and macrophages, and the expansion of regulatory T cells). We further revealed that fingolimod administration suppressed the activation of CD4+ cells and the differentiation of T helper type 1 cells, promoted the expansion of regulatory T cells in the pancreas, which might contribute to the maintenance of pancreatic immune tolerance and the reduction of T1D incidence. The protection might be due to fingolimod inhibiting the toll-like receptor 2/4/nuclear factor-κB/NOD-like receptor protein 3 inflammasome pathway in the colon. Collectively, early-life fingolimod treatment attenuates intestinal microbial dysbiosis and intestinal immune dysfunction in the T1D setting, which might contribute to its anti-diabetic effect.

Keywords: TLR2-NF-κB-NLRP3; enteric pathogens; fingolimod; gut barrier; type 1 diabetes.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / prevention & control*
  • Dysbiosis / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Fingolimod Hydrochloride / therapeutic use*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects
  • Homeostasis / drug effects*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Immune Tolerance / drug effects*
  • Intestines / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Pancreas / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Fingolimod Hydrochloride