Yiyi Fuzi Baijiang Powder Alleviates Dextran Sulfate Sodium-Induced Ulcerative Colitis in Rats via Inhibiting the TLR4/NF-κB/NLRP3 Inflammasome Signaling Pathway to Repair the Intestinal Epithelial Barrier, and Modulating Intestinal Microbiota.
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic non-specific inflammatory disease of the intestine, which is prone to recurrence and difficult to cure. Yiyi Fuzi Baijiang powder (YFBP), as a classic Chinese herbal formula, is commonly used in the clinical treatment of UC. However, its potential mechanism remains unclear. In this study, we investigated the mechanism by which YFBP exerts a therapeutic effect against UC. Firstly, we used network pharmacology to screen the active ingredients and potential targets of YFBP and constructed a "drug-ingredient-target" network. Based on bioinformatics, we searched for differentially expressed genes (DEGs) associated with UC and obtained common targets. The core targets of YFBP in the treatment of UC were identified using a protein-protein interaction (PPI) network, and molecular docking techniques were used to evaluate the binding energies of the core targets and corresponding ingredients. Enrichment analysis by Gene Ontology (GO) and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) revealed that YFBP exerted therapeutic effects by regulating multiple inflammatory pathways including TLR4, NF-κB, and TNF. Secondly, an experimental study was carried out in vivo for verification. Our results demonstrated that YFBP could effectively improve the symptoms and intestinal pathological of UC rats. Further study showed that YFBP could significantly downregulate the expressions of TLR4 and p-NF-κB p65 in UC rats, inhibit the activation of NLRP3 inflammasome, reduce the levels of IL-1β and TNF-α, and then upregulate the expressions of tight junction proteins in intestinal epithelial cells. In addition, YFBP could improve the intestinal microbial community. In conclusion, our study revealed that YFBP had a good therapeutic effect on UC, and its mechanism might be related to the inhibition of the TLR4/NF-κB/NLRP3 inflammasome signaling pathway to repair intestinal epithelial barrier and the modulation of intestinal microbiota.