Journal of Chinese Pharmaceutical Sciences ›› 2016, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (3): 178-188.DOI: 10.5246/jcps.2016.03.021

• Original articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Formononetin ameliorates DSS-induced ulcerative colitis in mice through induction of Nrf2 in colons

Qian Yang1,2, Gang Chen2, Yang Yang2, Xueting Cai2, Zhonghua Pang2, Chunping Hu2, Shuangquan Zhang1*, Peng Cao2*   

  1. 1. Jiangsu Province Key Laboratory for Molecular and Medical Biotechnology, Life Sciences College, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210046, China
    2. Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Jiangsu Province Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Nanjing 210028, Jiangsu, China
  • Received:2015-10-23 Revised:2015-12-04 Online:2016-03-29 Published:2016-01-11
  • Contact: Tel./Fax: +86-25-85891053, Tel./Fax: +86-25-85608666, E-mail:,
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 81274150, 81573680 and 81470179).


Isoflavone formononetin (FN) is a main active component of red clover (Trifolium pratense L.), a medicinal plant possessing antitumorigenic and antioxidant properties. In the present study, we aimed to examine the effect of FN on dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced ulcerative colitis (UC) in mice. The results showed that FN (25, 50 mg/kg) markedly attenuated the loss of body weight, the disease activity index (DAI), shortening of colon length and tissue injury induced by DSS treatment. In addition, the levels of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) were also significantlyreduced in FN treatment group compared with the DSS group. Moreover, several representative oxidative stress parameters in colorectum, including superoxide dismutase (SOD), methane dicarboxylic aldehyde (MDA), myeloperoxidase (MPO) and 8-oxoguanine, were markedly ameliorated. In this study, we also found that the expression of Nrf2 was increased by FN treatment.However, symptoms of UC were not ameliorated in Nrf2 knockout mice. Taken together, FN could prevent the development of UC through activating of Nrf2 axis, and the protective effect was Nrf2 dependent. Our results demonstrated that FN might be a potential therapeutic agent in the treatment of UC.

Key words: Nrf2, Ulcerative colitis, Isoflavone formononetin, Flammatory cytokines, Oxidative stress

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