Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Nilesh Sharma (Director), Cheryl D. Davis, Scott Grubbs

Degree Program

Department of Biology

Degree Type

Master of Science


Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic disease of the colon or large intestine that causes inflammation and ulceration of the inner lining of the colon and rectum. In patients with ulcerative colitis, the body’s immune system overreacts and the body mistakes food, bacteria or other internal materials in the colon for an invading substance. The immune system attacks the material, thus irritating the colon. Limited knowledge of inflammatory conditions coupled with a narrow range of therapeutic options necessitates investigating the role of natural products. This study describes the effect of natural coconut oil on chemically-induced acute and chronic disease in mice. Ulcerative colitis was induced in four groups (5 mice per group) of 10-week-old female C57BL/6 mice by exposing them to 2.5-3% dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) for 5 and 29 days in the acute and chronic models, respectively. Coconut oil treatment was given via food containing 5% coconut oil to three diseased groups in three different regimens: one, preventive group receiving treatment prior to disease induction (14 d in acute; 28 d in chronic); two, simultaneous group receiving treatment simultaneous to disease induction; and three, regular treatment group receiving treatment after the disease induction –until termination of the experiment (14 d in acute; 60 d in chronic). Coconut food was replaced by the regular chow in the disease and water control groups. Clinical symptoms (diarrhea, occult blood, anal bleeding and body weight change) and the size of the isolated colon were recorded for comparison between experimental and control groups. Groups receiving coconut food displayed remissions in clinical markers of the disease. Improvements in clinical symptoms, histopathology, as well as cytokine activities were observed in both models, but the effects were more significant on the basis of standard error in the chronic model.


Biology | Digestive, Oral, and Skin Physiology | Medical Immunology | Natural Products Chemistry and Pharmacognosy