2015 Volume 38 Issue 4 Pages 566-570
Ulcerative colitis induced by dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) is one of the most widely used experimental animal models. However, the mechanism responsible for the pathogenesis of the colitis is still unclear. The aim of the present study was to clarify the events occurring after administration of DSS to rats focusing on the relationship between the intestinal bacterial metabolism of DSS and the intestinal mucosal lesions in the model. Within 2 d after DSS administration, severe injury of the cecal mucosa was evident, together with bloody feces and blood in the cecum. However, these lesions were repressed by administration of antibiotics. On the other hand, DSS was found to be metabolized under anaerobic conditions upon incubation with cecal content in vitro, first being desulfated and then undergoing carbohydrate moiety degradation. However, no such metabolic process occurred when cecal content from rats that had been administered antibiotics was employed. These results indicate that the initial step of DSS-induced ulcerative colitis is lesioning of the cecal mucosa, which is related to metabolism of DSS by intestinal bacteria.