Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors alter gut microbiota and ameliorate collagen-induced arthritis

Lingshu Zhang, Pingfang Song, Xiaowei Zhang, Christina Metea, Matthew Schleisman, Lisa Karstens, Eric Leung, Jun Zhang, Qiang Xu, Yi Liu, Mark Asquith, Cong Qiu Chu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Acarose is an anti-diabetic drug and exhibits anti-arthritic effects. We hypothesized that acarbose influences the gut microbiota to affect the course of arthritis and tested this hypothesis in a collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) murine model. Acarbose in drinking water was administered via gastric gavage started prior to or at the time of CIA induction. Gut microbiota were evaluated with 16S rRNA gene sequencing from fecal pellets collected prior to arthritis induction, during onset of arthritis, and after treatment. Immune response was evaluated by measuring changes in T helper-17 (Th17) and T regulatory (Treg) cells in the spleen and intestine, as well as serum cytokine levels. Before induction of CIA, acarbose significantly reduced the incidence of arthritis and attenuated clinical severity of arthritis. The frequency of Th17 cells was significantly decreased in the intestinal lamina propria in acarbose treated mice. Mice that were treated with acarbose showed significantly increased CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ Treg cells with elevation of Helios and CCR6. A remarkable alteration in microbial community was observed in acarbose treated mice. Bacterial diversity and richness in mice with arthritis were significantly lower than those in acarbose treated groups. The frequency of Firmicutes was significantly reduced after arthritis onset but was restored after treatment with acarbose. The frequency of Lactobacillus, Anaeroplasma, Adlercreutzia, RF39 and Corynebacterium was significantly higher in control groups than in acarbose treated, while Oscillospira, Desulfovibrio and Ruminococcus enriched in acarbose treated group. Miglitol, another aglucosidase inhibitor showed a similar but less potent anti-arthritic effect to that of acarbose. These data demonstrate that acarbose alleviated CIA through regulation of Th17/Treg cells in the intestinal mucosal immunity, which may have resulted from the impact of acarbose on gut microbial community. Inexpensive antidiabetic drugs with an excellent safety profile are potentially useful for managing rheumatoid arthritis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number01684
JournalFrontiers in Pharmacology
StatePublished - 2020


  • Acarbose
  • Arthritis (including rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Microbiome
  • Th17
  • Treg cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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