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Research: Melatonin ameliorates necrotizing enterocolitis by preventing Th17/Treg imbalance through activation of the AMPK/SIRT1 pathway

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Research: Melatonin ameliorates necrotizing enterocolitis by preventing Th17/Treg imbalance through activation of the AMPK/SIRT1 pathway

Theranostics

. 2020 Jun 19;10(17):7730-7746. doi: 10.7150/thno.45862. eCollection 2020. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32685016/

Melatonin ameliorates necrotizing enterocolitis by preventing Th17/Treg imbalance through activation of the AMPK/SIRT1 pathway

Fei Ma 1 2Hu Hao 1Xiaoyan Gao 3Yao Cai 1Jialiang Zhou 4Puping Liang 5Junjian Lv 6Qiuming He 6Congcong Shi 1Dandan Hu 6Bowei Chen 7Lixin Zhu 2Xin Xiao 1Sitao Li 1Affiliations expand

Free PMC article

Abstract

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a severe gastrointestinal disease affecting premature infants. Mounting evidence supports the therapeutic effect of melatonin on NEC, although the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Methods: NEC was induced in 10-day-old C57BL/6 pups via hypoxia and gavage feeding of formula containing enteric bacteria, and then, mice received melatonin, melatonin + recombinant IL-17, melatonin + anti-CD25 monoclonal antibody, melatonin + Ex-527, or melatonin + Compound C treatment. Control mice were left with their dams to breastfeed and vehicle-treated NEC pups were used as controls for treatment. Ileal tissues were collected from mice and analyzed by histopathology, immunoblotting, and flow cytometry. FITC-labeled dextran was administered to all surviving pups to evaluate gut barrier function by fluorometry. We used molecular biology and cell culture approaches to study the related mechanisms in CD4+ T cells from umbilical cord blood. Results: We demonstrated that melatonin treatment ameliorates disease in an NEC mouse model in a manner dependent on improved intestinal Th17/Treg balance. We also showed that melatonin blocks the differentiation of pathogenic Th17 cells and augments the generation of protective Treg cells in vitro. We further demonstrated that the Th17/Treg balance is influenced by melatonin through activation of AMPK in the intestine, in turn promoting SIRT1 activation and stabilization. Conclusions: These results demonstrate that melatonin-induced activation of AMPK/SIRT1 signaling regulates the balance between Th17 and Treg cells and that therapeutic strategies targeting the Th17/Treg balance via the AMPK/SIRT1 pathway might be beneficial for the treatment of NEC.

Keywords: AMPK/SIRT1 pathway; intestine; melatonin, necrotizing enterocolitis, Th17/Treg imbalance.

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