Research Papers:

Protective effects of Huangqin Decoction against ulcerative colitis and associated cancer in mice

Gang Chen, Yang Yang, Chunping Hu, Xiaolan Cheng, Yuehua Xu, Xueting Cai, Min Wang, Chung S. Yang and Peng Cao _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:61643-61655. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.11426

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Gang Chen1,2,3,*, Yang Yang1,2,*, Chunping Hu1,2, Xiaolan Cheng1,2, Yuehua Xu1,2, Xueting Cai1,2, Min Wang3, Chung S. Yang4, Peng Cao1,2

1Affiliated Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing, 210028, Jiangsu, China

2Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Jiangsu Province Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Nanjing, 210028, Jiangsu, China

3School of Life Science and Technology, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing, 210009, Jiangsu, China

4Department of Chemical Biology, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ, 08854, USA

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Peng Cao, email: [email protected]

Chung S. Yang, email: [email protected]

Keywords: Huangqin Decoction, ulcerative colitis, colitis-associated cancer, anti-inflammation and antioxidant

Received: March 29, 2016     Accepted: August 12, 2016     Published: August 19, 2016


Individuals with ulcerative colitis (UC) are at a high risk for developing colorectal cancer (CRC). Huangqin Decoction (HQD), a traditional Chinese medicinal formula chronicled in the Shang Han Lun, is commonly used to treat gastrointestinal symptoms. However, experimental evidence for supporting the clinical practice is lacking. This study used modern biomedical approaches to investigate the protective/preventive effects of HQD in dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced acute/chronic UC and azoxymethane (AOM)/DSS-induced CRC in mice. HQDs were prepared in 4 different ways: HQD-1 and HQD-2 were prepared in boiling water, whereas HQD-3 and HQD-4 were prepared in heated ethanol (70%). For HQD-1 and HQD-3, the 4 constituent herbs were processed together, whereas for HQD-2 and HQD4, these herbs were processed individually and then combined. The mice were administered 9.1 g/kg HQD via oral gavage daily. HQD-1 significantly inhibited DSS-induced acute UC, whereas HQD-3 and HQD-4 exhibited mild ameliorative effects; but HQD-2 had no protective effect and resulted in a higher mortality rate. This higher mortality rate may be due to the greater abundance of baicalein and wogonin in HQD-2 than HQD-1. Furthermore, HQD-1 protected against DSS-induced chronic UC and significantly inhibited AOM/DSS-induced CRC in mice. HQD-1 also inhibited the production of inflammatory cytokines and increased antioxidant capacity both in chronic DSS and AOM/DSS treated mice. Overall, HQD-1 inhibits the development of acute/chronic colitis and prevents colitis-associated CRC, possibly by inhibiting inflammation and preventing oxidative stress induced cellular damage.

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