Author(s): Kin Ki Tai, William KK Wu, Chi Hin Cho
Cathelicidin, an antimicrobial peptide of the innate immune system, modulates microbial growth, wound healing, and inflammation. However, its association with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) is unknown. Our objective was to determine whether cathelicidin would exert a modulatory effect on the progression of IBD and, if so, investigate the mechanism of action through which this effect occurred. We evaluated the potential for a synthetic cathelicidin, the mouse cathelin-related antimicrobial peptide (mCRAMP), to prevent the initiation and promote the healing of lesions from inflammatory colitis that was experimentally induced in mice with dextran sulfate sodium (DSS). During the experiment, mCRAMP was given: (i) as a parallel treatment starting together with 3% DSS feeding, and (ii) as a posttreatment starting 7 days after 3% DSS feeding. The body weight, fecal microflora populations, clinical symptoms, and histologic findings of colonic tissues were measured. Relative gene expression of mucins (MUC1, MUC2, MUC3, and MUC4) in colonic tissues was determined by real-time polymerase chain reaction. Intrarectal administration of mCRAMP ameliorated DSS-induced colitis with negligible effects on mucosal healing. The peptide also significantly reduced the increased number of fecal microflora in colitis animals. It reversed the decline of colonic mucus thickness during colitis through upregulation of the expression of mucin genes. Treatment with mCRAMP also prevented colitis development by suppressing the induction of apoptosis by DSS. The current study demonstrates for the first time that intrarectal administration of cathelicidin may be a novel therapeutic option for IBDs.