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Front. Pharmacol. | doi: 10.3389/fphar.2019.01271

Baicalin protects against hypertension-associated intestinal barrier impairment in part through enhanced microbial production of short-chain fatty acids

Dandan Wu1, Liliqiang Ding1, Xiaoting Tang1, Wenjian Wang1,  Yu Chen1* and Teng Zhang1*
  • 1Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, China

Impaired intestinal barrier plays an important role in the pathogenesis of hypertension primarily through promoting the development of chronic low-grade inflammation. Baicalin is the major flavonoid component of Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi, a medicinal plant commonly used for the treatment of inflammatory intestinal disorders and hypertension in traditional Chinese medicine. However, it remains to be elucidated whether baicalin alleviates hypertension-associated intestinal barrier impairment. The current study thus investigated the effects of baicalin on the intestinal barrier integrity, the intestinal expression of genes encoding proinflammatory factors and tight junction proteins, the serum levels of the inflammatory markers, the amount of fecal short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and the abundance of SCFAs-producing bacteria in the spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs). The results showed that baicalin alleviated the pathological lesions in the ilium and the proximal colon in the SHRs. Baicalin treatment resulted in decreased ileal and colonic expression of proinflammatory genes in the SHRs. In addition, baicalin treatment attenuated hypertension-associated intestinal hyperpermeability and decreased the serum levels of inflammatory indicators such as hs-CRP, IL-1β and IL-6 in the SHRs. The protective effect of baicalin on the intestinal integrity was also supported by well-preserved intestinal ultrastructure and increased intestinal expression of genes encoding tight junction proteins such as ZO-1, cingulin and occludin in the SHRs. Lastly, baicalin treatment increased the amount of fecal SCFAs and the abundance of SCFAs-producing bacteria in the SHRs. In conclusion, the work here provides for the first time the morphological, biochemical and molecular evidence supporting the protective effects of baicalin on the intestinal integrity in the SHRs, which may help better understand the therapeutic effects of Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi in the treatment of hypertension.

Keywords: Baicalin, Hypertension, intestinal barrier, short-chain fatty acids, Gut Microbiota

Received: 27 Aug 2019; Accepted: 04 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Wu, Ding, Tang, Wang, Chen and Zhang. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
Prof. Yu Chen, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai, Shanghai Municipality, China, chenyu6639@hotmail.com
Prof. Teng Zhang, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai, Shanghai Municipality, China, zhangteng@shyueyanghospital.com