Tlr antagonism by sparstolonin b alters microbial signature and modulates gastrointestinal and neuronal inflammation in gulf war illness preclinical model

Dipro Bose, Ayan Mondal, Punnag Saha, Diana Kimono, Sutapa Sarkar, Ratanesh K. Seth, Patricia Janulewicz, Kimberly Sullivan, Ronnie Horner, Nancy Klimas, Mitzi Nagarkatti, Prakash Nagarkatti, Saurabh Chatterjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The 1991 Persian Gulf War veterans presented a myriad of symptoms that ranged from chronic pain, fatigue, gastrointestinal disturbances, and cognitive deficits. Currently, no therapeutic regimen exists to treat the plethora of chronic symptoms though newer pharmacological targets such as microbiome have been identified recently. Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) antagonism in systemic inflammatory diseases have been tried before with limited success, but strategies with broad-spectrum TLR4 antagonists and their ability to modulate the host-microbiome have been elusive. Using a mouse model of Gulf War Illness, we show that a nutraceutical, derived from a Chinese herb Sparstolonin B (SsnB) presented a unique microbiome signature with an increased abundance of butyrogenic bacteria. SsnB administration restored a normal tight junction protein profile with an increase in Occludin and a parallel decrease in Claudin 2 and inflammatory mediators high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in the distal intestine. SsnB also decreased neuronal inflammation by decreasing IL-1β and HMGB1, while increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), with a parallel decrease in astrocyte activation in vitro. Mechanistically, SsnB inhibited the binding of HMGB1 and myeloid differentiation primary response protein (MyD88) to TLR4 in the intestine, thus attenuating TLR4 downstream signaling. Studies also showed that SsnB was effective in suppressing TLR4-induced nod-like receptor protein 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome activation, a prominent inflammatory disease pathway. SsnB significantly decreased astrocyte activation by decreasing colocalization of glial fibrillary acid protein (GFAP) and S100 calcium-binding protein B (S100B), a crucial event in neuronal inflammation. Inactivation of SsnB by treating the parent molecule by acetate reversed the deactivation of NLRP3 inflammasome and astrocytes in vitro, suggesting that SsnB molecular motifs may be responsible for its anti-inflammatory activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number532
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Astrocytes
  • BDNF
  • Butyrogenic bacteria
  • Dysbiosis
  • HMGB1
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Nutraceutical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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