Image1_Metformin Exerts Anti-inflammatory and Mucus Barrier Protective Effects by Enriching Akkermansia muciniphila in Mice With Ulcerative Colitis.JPEG
The present study aimed to determine if metformin exerts anti-inflammatory and mucus-protective effects via the gut microbiota. Metformin has extensive benefits including anti-inflammatory effects. Previous studies showed that metformin changed the gut microbiota composition and increases the number of goblet cells. Intestinal dysbiosis and goblet cell depletion are important features of ulcerative colitis (UC). The underlying mechanism and whether metformin can improve the mucus barrier in UC remain unclear. Metformin (400 mg/kg/day) was administered to mice with dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced UC for 2 wk to investigate the effects of metformin on the intestinal mucus barrier. The gut microbiota was depleted, using antibiotics, to explore its role in the mucus-protecting effects of metformin. Akkermansia muciniphila (A. muciniphila), which was enriched in metformin-treated mice, was administered to mice to investigate the effects of the bacteria on UC and the mucus barrier. Metformin attenuated DSS-induced UC in mice, as evidenced by the alleviation of diarrhea, hematochezia, and the decrease in body weight. The expression of mucin2, a prominent mucus barrier protein, was increased in the metformin-treated group compared to the DSS-treated group. Furthermore, fecal 16S rRNA analysis showed that metformin treatment changed the gut microbiota composition by increasing the relative abundance of Lactobacillus and Akkermansia species while decreasing Erysipelatoclostridium at the genus level. Antibiotic treatment partly abolished the anti-inflammatory and mucus-protecting effects of metformin. Administration of A. muciniphila alleviated the colonic inflammation and mucus barrier disruption. Metformin alleviated DSS-induced UC in mice and protected against cell damage via affecting the gut microbiota, thereby providing a new mechanism for the therapeutic effect of metformin in patients with UC. This study also provides evidence that A. muciniphila as a probiotic has potential benefits for UC.