Persicaria tinctoria (Aiton) Spach, also called Polygonum tinctorium Lour., (family Polygonaceae) for indigo plant has been traditionally useful as a medicinal or edible plant with a variety of biological activities. Of these, much attention has been paid to their anti-inflammatory activities. We have recently demonstrated that indigo leaves contain high levels of flavonol O-glycosides with 3,5,4′-trihydroxy-6,7-methylenedioxyflavone (TMF) as an aglycone. In this study, we attempted to evaluate anti-inflammatory activities of TMF-O-glycosides and free TMF prepared from indigo leaves after extraction with hot water. Free TMF was found to appreciably down-regulate the gene expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines including interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, inducible nitric oxide, and tumor necrosis factor-α in cultured macrophage cells stimulated with lipopolysaccharide while up-regulating the expression of anti-inflammatory IL-10. However, no study has been conducted regarding in vivo anti-inflammatory activities of TMF-O-glycosides and free TMF until now. Here, we assessed in vivo anti-inflammatory effects of these dietary compounds on ulcerative colitis in a murine model of inflammatory bowel disease by the induction with dextran sulfate sodium (DSS). Histological evaluation revealed that both TMF-O-glycosides and free TMF effectively protected against DSS-induced ulcerative colitis. The analysis of digested products by liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry led us to detect free TMF as a predominant metabolite in the feces of mice fed with TMF-O-glycosides. Moreover, free TMF was later detected as glucuronyl conjugates of TMF in the liver of mice fed with both fractions. These results indicate the effective digestion of TMF-O-glycosides and the subsequent absorption of free TMF in the gut of mice for exerting anti-inflammatory effects. Taken together, our findings suggest that dietary TMF-O-glycosides could be promising natural sources for the utilization as herbal medicine and nutraceuticals to expect in vivo anti-inflammatory activities.
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