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Houttuynia cordata polysaccharides ameliorate pneumonia severity and intestinal injury in mice with influenza virus infection

Ethnopharmacological relevance: Hottuynia cordata is an important traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of respiratory diseases including bacterial and viral infections. Polysaccharides isolated from Houttuynia cordata(HCP), as its main ingredients, have been demonstrated to ameliorate the LPS-induced acute lung injury in mice.The study aimed to determine the protective effects of HCP on multiple organ injury in influenza A virus (IAV) H1N1 infected mice and its primary mechanisms in anti-inflammation and immune regulation.

Materials and methods: Mice were inoculated with IAV H1N1 and then treated with 20 or 40 mg/kg/d of HCP for survival test and acute lung-gut injury test.

Results: The treatment with HCP resulted in an increase in the survival rate of H1N1 infected mice and the protection from lung and intestine injury, accompanied with the reduced virus replication. HCP markedly decreased the concentration of pulmonary proinflammatory cytokines/chemokines and the number of intestinal goblet cells, and strengthened the intestinal physical and immune barrier, according to the increase of sIgA and tight junction protein (ZO-1) in intestine. At the same time, the inhibition of inflammation in lung and gut was related to the suppressing of the expression of TLR4 and p-NFκB p65 in lung.

Conclusions: These results indicated that HCP ameliorated lung and intestine injury induced by IAV attack. The mechanisms were associated with inhibition of inflammation, protection of intestinal barrier and regulation of mucosal immunity, which may be related to the regulation of gut-lung axis. As an alternative medicine, HCP may have clinical potential to treat IAV infection in human beings.