Pomegranate would be the key to treating inflammatory bowel disease. Urolithin A, a metabolite, as well as its synthetic equivalent, is believed to be a major element in the treatment of inflammatory colitis.
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, two diseases that are characterized by long-term inflammation of the lining of part of the digestive tract. They are the result of a dysregulation of the immune system leading to intestinal inflammation and microbial dysbiosis, as specified in the study published in Nature Communications.
They cause, in the case of ulcerative colitis, digestive disorders and diarrhea that may be accompanied by blood loss. In the case of Crohn’s disease, patients suffer from abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, and lose weight. In the United States, about 1.6 million people suffer from IBD, including about 780,000 people with Crohn’s disease and 907,000 with ulcerative colitis.
In this new study, researchers at the University of Louisville, Kentucky have identified a natural compound that can improve treatments for IBD. The compound, called urolithin A (UroA), is a metabolite produced by the interaction of intestinal bacteria with certain polyphenols found in pomegranates and some other fruits, including berries.
Specifically, ellagic acid — present in pomegranates and berries — interacts with a strain of the intestine, thus releasing UroA. In addition to the anti-inflammatory effect of UroA, researchers have identified that it strongly enhances the function of intestinal barrier. This compound also has a synthetic equivalent called UAS03, which has the same therapeutic effect, if not stronger, in the case of IBD. Thus, this discovery could, after further studies, lead to the creation of more effective IBD drugs.