Pomegranate extract dietary supplement lowers Inflammation and reduces disease severity in a pre-clinical model of colitis

A study backed by the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation supports the potential use of dietary pomegranate in inflammatory bowel diseases

NEW YORK, NY – Dietary supplementation of pomegranate extract decreased disease severity and lowered inflammation in mice with colitis, according to a new study published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research and funded by the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. In “Pomegranate Extract Improves Colitis in IL-10 Knockout Mice Fed a High Fat High Sucrose Diet,” researchers found that a diet with pomegranate extract induced changes in the gut microbiome and significantly increased intestinal microbial richness. In addition to supporting the potential role of pomegranate extract in the gut microbiome, the study showed that pomegranate extract decreases bowel inflammation in a genetic rodent model of colitis. 

As researchers continue to define the role of the microbiome in influencing inflammatory conditions, patients can now start looking forward to understanding how specific foods can impact their gut microbiome. Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), which include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, are believed to be driven by multiple, complex interactions of genetic and environmental factors. A patient’s diet is one such environmental factor, and specific diets are believed to influence gut inflammatory responses. Since certain foods can trigger positive responses by the gut bacteria, researchers of this study focused on the anti-inflammatory properties of pomegranates in mice. To determine if the pomegranate extract could benefit patients with IBD, further clinical studies in patients with IBD are required.

In the study, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles and the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System used IL-10 knockout mice, which lack an immunoregulatory gene called IL-10. Because of this genetic manipulation, IL-10 knockout mice develop spontaneous enterocolitis by 2-3 months of age. These mice were randomly assigned into two different diet groups, both which were fed a high fat/high sucrose (HFHS) diet. Mice fed with the HFHS diet and 0.25% pomegranate extract experienced a decrease in the colonic disease severity and had lowered inflammatory markers. The two diets evaluated were: 

  • The HFHS diet, characterized by 42% energy from fat and 30% energy from sucrose. 
  • The HFHS diet, with the additional supplement of 0.25% pomegranate extract

“By confirming the anti-inflammatory benefits of pomegranate in mice with IBD, the study suggests the potential value of dietary management in human patients with IBD. Identifying which foods can help keep a patient’s gut microbiome and immune system in balance can be key to disease management,” said Dr. Zhaoping Li, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Clinical Nutrition at the University of California, Los Angeles. “By supporting research investigating the role of a patient’s diet in IBD immune response, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation is ahead of the curve on an emerging yet underfunded research area that can help millions of patients.” 

“The pomegranate extract research study is an important demonstration of a potential connection between disease and diet. As part of comprehensive care management, providers should work with patients to figure out and avoid triggering foods and events,” said Michael Osso, President & CEO of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. “The Foundation is committed to advancing critical IBD research into diet and nutrition, and we look forward to future discoveries that will help improve every patient’s quality of life.”

Through its Precision Nutrition initiative, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation supports and advances research aimed at understanding how diet in affects chronic inflammatory conditions like IBD, particularly at the individual patient level.

“The long-term goal of the Precision Nutrition initiative is to provide research-based evidence to tailor a patient’s diet based on the individual’s clinical, biological and lifestyle characteristics,” said Andrés Hurtado-Lorenzo PhD, Vice President of Translational Research at the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, and who is leading the initiative.

The program is made possible through a generous donation from Jonathan D. Rose, MD, PhD, Chair, Intestinal Pathology Research Program.

Click here to read the full study in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.

Crohn's & Colitis Foundation

The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization focused on both research and patient support for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), with the mission of curing Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and improving the quality of life for the millions of Americans living with IBD. The Foundation’s work is dramatically accelerating the research process, while also providing extensive educational and support resources for patients and their families, medical professionals, and the public.