Restoring immune balance by targeting macrophage polarization is a potentially valuable therapeutic strategy for ulcerative colitis (UC). Dioscin is a steroidal saponin with potent anti-inflammatory, immunoregulatory, and hypolipidemic effects. This study examined the protective effect of Dioscin on UC in mice and explored the underlying mechanisms. Mice were induced colitis by dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) and concurrently treated with Dioscin oral administration. RAW264.7 cells were skewed to M1 macrophage polarization by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and interferon-γ (INF-γ) in vitro, and received Dioscin treatment. The results showed that Dioscin ameliorated colitis in mice, reduced macrophage M1 polarization, but markedly promoted M2 polarization in mice colon. Dioscin inhibited mammalian target rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1)/hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) signalling and restrained glycolysis in RAW264.7; however, it activated mammalian target rapamycin complex 2 (mTORC2)/peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPAR-γ) signal and facilitated fatty acid oxidation (FAO). The modulation of mTORs signalling may inhibit M1, but promote M2 polarization. Furthermore, the effect of Dioscin on M2 polarization was neutralized by the FAO inhibitor Etomoxir and the mTORC2 inhibitor JR-AB2-011. In parallel, the inhibitory effect of Dioscin on M1 polarization was mitigated by the mTORC1 agonist L-leucine. Both JR-AB2-011 and L-leucine blocked the therapeutic effect of Dioscin in mice with UC. Therefore, Dioscin ameliorated UC in mice, possibly by restraining M1, while skewing M2 polarization of macrophages. Regulation of mTORC1/HIF-1α and mTORC2/PPAR-γ signals is a possible mechanism by which Dioscin inhibited aerobic glycolysis and promoted FAO of macrophages. In summary, Dioscin protected mice against DSS-induced UC by regulating mTOR signalling, thereby adjusting macrophage metabolism and polarization.Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
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