The emerging coloprotective effect of sildenafil against ulcerative colitis in rats via exerting counterbalance between NF-κB signaling and Nrf-2/HO-1 pathway

Inflammopharmacology. 2022 Aug;30(4):1351-1362. doi: 10.1007/s10787-022-01016-9. Epub 2022 Jul 14.


The current work explored the influences of time dependent Sildenafil (SILD) administration, and the possible outcomes from its concomitant administration with dexamethasone against acetic acid-induced ulcerative colitis in rats. Rats were assigned into six random groups: diseased group (AA), injected once with 2 ml acetic acid (3%) intrarectally, 2 days before sacrification. SILD + AA, received sildenafil (25 mg/kg, orally) for 6 days starting 3 days pre-injection of AA; SILD-t + AA, received sildenafil (25 mg/kg, orally), starting at time of AA injection and continued for 3 days; DEXA + AA, received dexamethasone (2 mg/kg, i.p.) for 3 days, starting at time of AA injection; SILD-t + DEXA + AA, received sildenafil (25 mg/kg, orally) and dexamethasone (2 mg/kg, i.p.), as mentioned. Sildenafil markedly ameliorated disease activity index (DAI), ulcer scores, colon length shortening and colonic histopathological changes. Mechanistically, Sildenafil markedly attenuated immunoexpression of NF-κB p65/ TNF-α and COX-2, diminished oxidative stress (↓ MDA/NO levels and ↑ GSH level and SOD activity), increased levels of Nrf-2/HO-1, compared to untreated group. Taken together, Sildenafil treatment suppressed acetic acid-induced ulcerative colitis, probably via inhibiting NF-κB/TNF-α signaling dependent of Nrf-2/HO-1 pathway, reducing oxidative stress and attenuating inflammation. Surprisingly, effects of sildenafil were unpromoted in a time dependant manner. Short term treatment with sildenafil was sufficient to exert its coloprotective effect, while longer term pretreatment was only superior among other treatments in the macroscopical changes. Moreover, concurrent administration of sildenafil and dexamethasone had the preference in boosting the antioxidant defense and anti-inflammatory mechanisms, visualized by histopathological/immunohistochemical changes.

Keywords: Acetic acid; HO-1; NF-κB p65; Nrf-2; Sildenafil; Ulcerative colitis.

MeSH terms

  • Acetic Acid / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / chemically induced
  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / drug therapy
  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / metabolism
  • Colon
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Sildenafil Citrate / adverse effects
  • Sildenafil Citrate / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • NF-kappa B
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Dexamethasone
  • Sildenafil Citrate
  • Acetic Acid