Background The fluoroquinolone ciprofloxacin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that has been used in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases. There is evidence that quinolones have immunomodulating activities via the regulation of cytokine production.
Materials and methods We investigated the effect of ciprofloxacin on the nitric oxide (NO) production by colonic epithelium. HT-29 cells and colonic biopsies from patients (n = 4) with ulcerative colitis (UC) and normal controls (n = 4) were cultured with various concentrations of ciprofloxacin (10–100 µg mL−1) in the presence and absence of pro-inflammatory cytokines. The production of NO was measured in culture supernatants with a spectrophotometric method and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) mRNA expression was examined by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
Results Ciprofloxacin did not have any effect on the basal NO production by HT-29 cells. In contrast, ciprofloxacin significantly (P < 0·001) inhibited the pro-inflammatory cytokines (interleukin-1α + tumour necrosis factor-α + interferon-γ)-induced NO production in HT-29, in a concentration-dependent manner, via the inhibition of the cytokine-induced iNOS mRNA expression. Wortmannin produced a concentration related reversal of the inhibitory effect of ciprofloxacin at both iNOS mRNA expression and NO production in HT-29 cells. A similar inhibitory effect of ciprofloxacin on the cytokine-induced NO production and iNOS mRNA expression was detected in vitro in cultures of normal colonic tissue. In addition, ciprofloxacin significantly inhibited the NO production and iNOS mRNA expression in cultures of colonic tissue from ulcerative colitis patients, in a concentration-dependent manner.
Conclusions These data suggest that ciprofloxacin, in addition to its antimicrobial role, might have an immunoregulatory effect on intestinal inflammation, via the modulation of inflammatory mediators.