STW 5 Herbal Preparation Modulates Wnt3a and Claudin 1 Gene Expression in Zebrafish IBS-like Model

Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2021 Nov 28;14(12):1234. doi: 10.3390/ph14121234.


Aim: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional bowel disorder characterized by chronic abdominal pain and stool irregularities. STW 5 has proven clinical efficacy in functional gastrointestinal disorders, including IBS, targeting pathways that suppress inflammation and protect the mucosa. Wnt signaling is known to modulate NF-kβ-dependent inflammatory cytokine production. This sparked the idea of evaluating the impact of STW 5 on the expression of inflammatory-response and Wnt/β catenin-target genes in an IBS-like model.

Main methods: We used zebrafish and dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) treatment to model IBS-like conditions in vivo and in vitro and examined the effects of subsequent STW 5 treatment on the intestines of DSS-treated fish and primary cultured intestinal and neuronal cells. Gross gut anatomy, histology, and the expression of Wnt-signaling and cytokine genes were analyzed in treated animals and/or cells, and in controls.

Key findings: DSS treatment up-regulated the expression of interleukin-8, tumor necrosis factor-α, wnt3a, and claudin-1 in explanted zebrafish gut. Subsequent STW 5 treatment abolished both the macroscopic signs of gut inflammation, DSS-induced mucosecretory phenotype, and normalized the DSS-induced upregulated expression of il10 and Wnt signaling genes, such as wnt3a and cldn1 in explanted zebrafish gut. Under inflammatory conditions, STW 5 downregulated the expression of the pro-inflammatory cytokine genes il1β, il6, il8, and tnfα while it upregulated the expression of the anti-inflammatory genes il10 and wnt3a in enteric neuronal cells in vitro.

Significance: Wnt signaling could be a novel target for the anti-inflammatory and intestinal permeability-restoring effects of STW 5, possibly explaining its clinical efficacy in IBS.

Keywords: IBS; NF-kβ; STW 5; Wnt signaling; claudin 1; wnt3a; zebrafish.