Preventive effects of bovine colostrum supplementation in TNBS-induced colitis in mice

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammatory disorder for which the current medical therapy is not completely effective. Bovine colostrum (BC) is a biological fluid rich in bioactive molecules that may have beneficial effects on several gastrointestinal disorders. The objectives of this study were to assess the preventive effects of BC supplementation in a mouse model of 2,4,6 trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS)-induced colitis using a multidisciplinary approach. Specifically, the following parameters were evaluated: (i) disease activity index (DAI), (ii) histological score, (iii) expression levels of TLR4, anti- and pro-inflammatory cytokines, and (iv) count of some bacterial species of the intestinal microbiota. Mice received a daily suspension of BC (BC group, n = 12) or saline solution (control, CN group, n = 12) for 21 days before the intrarectal inoculation with 1% of TNBS solution. BC was well tolerated and did not induce any histological damage or clinical symptoms. After TNBS treatment, BC group showed a reduction of body weight (BW) loss (P<0.01) and histological score (P<0.05) compared to CN. Moreover, the expression levels of TLR4 (P<0.05), IL-1β (P<0.001), IL-8 (P<0.001), and IL-10 (P<0.001) were lower in mice administered with BC, while the concentrations of TNF-α did not show any differences between groups. Finally, the supplementation with BC resulted in a differential response to TNBS treatment in the bacterial count. In CN group, Ecoli and Enterococci increased (P<0.001), while Anaerobes (P<0.01), Lactobacilli, and Bifidobacteria (P<0.001) reduced. Conversely, no significant changes in bacterial load were found after the inoculation of TNBS in BC pre-treated mice. This study confirms that TNBS-induced colitis model in mice is useful for studying the mechanisms involved in IBD pathogenesis and shows that pre-treatment with BC reduces the intestinal damages and clinical signs of the colitis. Molecular mechanisms and intestinal microflora could be involved in the protective effect of colostrum.