Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) Research Cluster on Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence in X

Mechanistic investigation of a herbal formula JCM-16021 in protection of enteric barrier function in irritable bowel syndrome through promoting gut microbial generation of short-chain fatty acids
Principal Investigatgor: Prof. Zhao-xiang Bian ( School of Chinese Medicine )

Gut microbiota is one of the important therapeutic targets for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) generated from gut microbial fermentation have been proved to protect enteric barrier function in animals and relieve IBS symptoms in patients. A new herbal formula JCM-16021 developed by our group is shown to improve global IBS symptoms from a small-scale trial. By using an IBS rat model induced by neonatal maternal separation (NMS), we also found that this formula effectively enhanced the threshold of visceral sensation that is associated with significant elevation in the colonic expression of tight junction proteins and abundances of fecal butyrate-producing microbiota. These results draw a hypothesis that JCM-16021 might promote enteric barrier integrity by enhancing the microbial generation of SCFAs. This study will first clarify the protective effects of JCM-16021 on the enteric barrier function of NMS rats through behavior, histological and molecular biological tests. By using an antibiotic cocktail-induced pseudo germ-free model with fecal microbial transplantation, the role of SCFA-producing microbiota in the therapeutic action of JCM-16021 will be investigated. Moreover, whether and how JCM-16021 modulates microbial production of SCFAs, mediates tight junction integrity will be individually testified based on in vitro and in vivo experiments. This study provides not only reliable evidence for clarifying the therapeutic mechanism of JCM-16021 but also a theoretical foundation towards developing Chinese Medicine-based therapy for bowel diseases targeting gut microbiota.


  • To clarify the protective effects of JCM-16021 on intestinal barrier function in NMS-induced IBS-like rat model;
  • To investigate the microbiota-involved mechanism of JCM-16021 on intestinal barrier protection targeting SCFA-producing bacteria;
  • To verify the action mechanism by which JCM-16021 improves SCFA-modulated intestinal tight junction integrity.

Grant Support:

This project is supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC).

For further information on this research topic, please contact Prof. Zhao-xiang Bian.