Flavonoids are important chemotaxonomic markers for the genus Chromolaena. Chromolaena odorata Linn. (CO) is used in folklore medicines to treat gastrointestinal diseases such as diarrhoea. This study examined the feasibility of total flavonoids from C. odorata (TFCO) as an antibacterial agent in vitro, and the mechanism of action of TFCO in combating Escherichia coli-induced diarrhoea in mice. MBC and MIC values of 0.25 and 0.125 g TFCO/ml showed it was effective as an antibacterial agent against E. coli (CMCC 44752) in vitro. Ninety Kunming mice were randomly divided into five groups of 18 mice per group (1 male: 1 female). The groups were control (saline), negative control (E. coli + 0 mg/kg TFCO), low dose (E. coli + 10 mg/kg TFCO), medium dose (E. coli + 40 mg/kg TFCO), and high dose (E. coli + 160 mg/kg). TFCO was administered by gavage 3 h post intraperitoneal (i.p) E. coli injection. Serum IgM, IgA, IgG, TGF-β1 mRNA expression in duodenal villi, and histopathology of duodenum were also studied. TFCO significantly increased the IgA and IgG concentration (P<0.05), reversed the intestinal mucosal damage caused by E. coli, and increased the relative expression of TGF-β1 mRNA. Therefore, TFCO has potential to improve immune function against E. coli infection, restored the intestinal structure and cured the E. coli-induced diarrhoea in mice.
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