A new study in Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica B, discusses how 5S-Heudelotinone alleviates experimental colitis by shaping the immune system and enhancing the intestinal barrier in a gut microbiota-dependent manner.


Aberrant changes in the gut microbiota are implicated in many diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Gut microbes produce diverse metabolites that can shape the immune system and impact the intestinal barrier integrity, indicating that microbe-mediated modulation may be a promising strategy for preventing and treating IBD.

Although fecal microbiota transplantation and probiotic supplementation are well-established IBD therapies, novel chemical agents that are safe and exert strong effects on the gut microbiota are urgently needed.

Potent agent

The authors of this article report the total synthesis of heudelotinone and the discovery of 5S-heudelotinone (an enantiomer) as a potent agent against experimental colitis that acts by modulating the gut microbiota.

5S-Heudelotinone alters the diversity and composition of the gut microbiota and increases the concentration of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs); thus, it regulates the intestinal immune system by reducing proinflammatory immune cell numbers, and maintains intestinal mucosal integrity by modulating tight junctions (TJs). Moreover, 5S-heudelotinone (2) ameliorates colitis-associated colorectal cancer (CAC) in an azoxymethane (AOM)/dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced in situ carcinoma model.

Together, these findings reveal the potential of a novel natural product, namely, 5S-heudelotinone, to control intestinal inflammation and highlight that this product is a safe and effective candidate for the treatment of IBD and CAC.