Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Specific gut microbiota taxa as a key source of variability in colitis model

Owing to its simplicity, dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis is one of the most widely used mouse models of colitis. However, the severity of inflammation varies from one experiment to another. In a new study, Forster and colleagues have provided new insights into the DSS model by revealing specific microbial taxa that underlie disease variability.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Parameters influencing disease outcomes in the dextran sulfate sodium mouse model of colitis.


  1. Okayasu, I. et al. A novel method in the induction of reliable experimental acute and chronic ulcerative colitis in mice. Gastroenterology 98, 694–702 (1990).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Eichele, D. D. & Kharbanda, K. K. Dextran sodium sulfate colitis murine model: an indispensable tool for advancing our understanding of inflammatory bowel diseases pathogenesis. World J. Gastroenterol. 23, 6016–6029 (2017).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Forster, S. C. et al. Identification of gut microbial species linked with disease variability in a widely used mouse model of colitis. Nat. Microbiol. 7, 590–599 (2022).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Ivanov, I. I. et al. Induction of intestinal Th17 cells by segmented filamentous bacteria. Cell 139, 485–498 (2009).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Ward, J. M. et al. Inflammatory large bowel disease in immunodeficient mice naturally infected with Helicobacter hepaticus. Lab. Anim. Sci. 46, 15–20 (1996).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Garrett, W. S. et al. Enterobacteriaceae act in concert with the gut microbiota to induce spontaneous and maternally transmitted colitis. Cell Host Microbe 8, 292–300 (2010).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Waidmann, M. et al. Bacteroides vulgatus protects against Escherichia coli-induced colitis in gnotobiotic interleukin-2-deficient mice. Gastroenterology 125, 162–177 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Robertson, S. J. et al. Comparison of co-housing and littermate methods for microbiota standardization in mouse models. Cell Rep. 27, 1910–1919.e2 (2019).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Shames, B. et al. Identification of widespread Helicobacter hepaticus infection in feces in commercial mouse colonies by culture and PCR assay. J. Clin. Microbiol. 33, 2968–2972 (1995).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Kitajima, S., Takuma, S. & Morimoto, M. Histological analysis of murine colitis induced by dextran sulfate sodium of different molecular weights. Exp. Anim. 49, 9–15 (2000).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors warmly thank N. Rolhion who designed the original version of Fig. 1 and helped with preparing the manuscript.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Harry Sokol.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

H.S. received consultancy, or lecture fees, from Carenity, Abbvie, Astellas, Danone, Ferring, Mayoly Spindler, MSD, Novartis, Roche, Tillots, Enterome, Maat, BiomX, Biose, Novartis, and Takeda and is also a co-founder of Exeliom Bioscience. N.B. received lecture fees from Tillots and travel grants from Pfizer.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Benech, N., Sokol, H. Specific gut microbiota taxa as a key source of variability in colitis model. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 19, 491–492 (2022).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing