Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 271606, 15 pages
Research Article

Beneficial Effect of Shikonin on Experimental Colitis Induced by Dextran Sulfate Sodium in Balb/C Mice

1Departamento de Farmacologia, Facultat de Farmàcia, Universitat de València, Burjassot, 46100 Valencia, Spain
2Departamento de Patologia, Facultat de Medicina, Universitat de València, 46100 Valencia, Spain

Received 2 October 2012; Accepted 3 December 2012

Academic Editor: Cassandra L. Quave

Copyright © 2012 Isabel Andújar et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The naphthoquinone shikonin, a major component of the root of Lithospermum erythrorhizon, now is studied as an anti-inflammatory agent in the treatment of ulcerative colitis (UC). Acute UC was induced in Balb/C mice by oral administration of 5% dextran sodium sulfate (DSS). The disease activity index was evaluated, and a histologic study was carried out. Orally administered shikonin reduces induced UC in a dose-dependent manner, preventing the shortening of the colorectum and decreasing weight loss by 5% while improving the appearance of feces and preventing bloody stools. The disease activity index score was much lower in shikonin-treated mice than in the colitic group, as well as the myeloperoxidase activity. The expression of cyclooxygenase-2 was reduced by 75%, activation of NF-κB was reduced by 44%, and that of pSTAT-3 by 47%, as well as TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6 production. Similar results were obtained in primary macrophages culture. This is the first report of shikonin’s ability to attenuate acute UC induced by DSS. Shikonin acts by blocking the activation of two major targets: NF-κB and STAT-3, and thus constitutes a promising potential therapeutic agent for the management of the inflammatory bowel disease.