Development History of DSS Modeling
Drug development requires animal models to test efficacy. With over 50 years of development and optimization, the Dextran Sulfate Sodium Salt (DSS) ulcerative colitis (UC) model, among various animal models, is widely used to study the etiology and pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Fig1. The development of the DSS ulcerative colitis model
Characteristics of the UC model constructed by DSS
Multiple acute or chronic symptoms of UC can be induced, such as diarrhea, mucus-like stool, fecal occult blood, gross bloody stool, weight loss, decreased activity, and poor coat color, by different DSS doses.
Table 1 Histological characteristics of DSS colitis model
|DSS colitis model category||acute colitis model||Chronic phase colitis model|
|histological changes||Colon hyperemia, edema, shortening, brittleness, increased weight-to-length ratio||significantly shortened colon|
|Colon ulcers of varying degrees||Mucosal thickening, lymphadenopathy|
|Mucosal edema, goblet cell loss, crypt swelling and destruction||goblet cell loss, crypt loss|
|Different degrees of inflammatory cell infiltration in the mucosa and submucosa, epithelial cell damage||Adenomatous polyps and tumor-like changes in a small number of animals|
Advantages of the DSS UC Model
👍 1. The protocols are easy to be implemented.
👍 2. The DSS UC model closely resembles human UC symptoms with high repeatability.
👍 3. Various characteristic symptoms can be induced by controlling the administrated DSS dose, which was unique for the DSS UC model.
👍 4. The DSS UC model can be generated with a variety of widely used model animals, such as mice, rats, zebrafish, pigs, fruit flies, etc.
👍 5. IBD-induced colitis associated cancer (CAC) model can be created with the combined use of azoxymethane (AOM).
DSS UC model construction example
1. mouse model
1) BALB/c mice, female, 6-8 weeks, 25 g;
2) Sterile drinking water with 3% DSS, and filter with a 0.22 μm membrane;
3) DSS was administrated for 7 days;
4) Inflammation, such as colon edema and congestion, were observed after HE staining.
Fig.2 HE staining results of DSS acute colitis sections 
2. Zebrafish model
1) Culture zebrafish embryos in E3 embryo medium containing methyl blue at 28.5 °C to 1 dpf ;
2) Add 0.5% DSS to the E3 medium and filter with a 0.22 μm membrane;
3) 0.5% DSS treatment is from 3dpf to 6 dpf;
4) Pathological changes of zebrafish liver and inflammatory stress were observed.
Fig.3 DSS induces inflammatory response in zebrafish liver 
3. Pig model
1) Yorkshire piglets at age of 4-5 days;
2) DSS dose: 1.25g/kg, oral intake for 5 days;
3) Increased D-mannitol uptake rate was observed.
Fig.4 DSS-induced D-mannitol concentration in piglets was higher than that in the control group 
4. Drosophila model
1) Drosophila, female, 5-10 days;
2) Feeding medium was prepared with 5% sucrose solution containing 3% DSS and 25 μg/mL bleomycin;
3) Drosophila was cultured at 29°C for three days with a daily change of culture bottle;
4) DSS induced the proliferation of ISC precursor cells and had a lethal effect on drosophila.
Fig.5 DSS induces the proliferation of ISC precursor cells in Drosophila .
Modelling success evaluation criteria
1. Disease Activity Index ( DAI score )
The model was evaluated with multiple parameters including body weight, fecal viscosity and occult blood, through which generates the overall DAI.
Table 2 DAI scoring rules
percent weight loss
fecal occult blood
gross bloody stool
2. Histological Change Score
The scores were given for the above indicators based on the histological changes excluding the lymph node formation for the acute colitis model. The HE staining reagents used is Cat#60524ES60.
Table 3 Histological change score
Ulcer ( s )
Lymph node( s )
goblet cell loss
goblet cell loss
Infiltration of the muscularis mucosae
General infiltration of the muscularis mucosa, thickening of the mucosa
Extensive crypt loss or polypoid regeneration
3. Colon length
The shortened colon length was an obvious phenotype for the chronic colitis model, while similar changes can be detected on day 8 for the acute colitis model.
Preliminary experiments are recommended for using the DSS UC animal model with appropriate control. 8-10 animals per group are minimal requirements. DAI is the criteria to evaluate the results from a preliminary study.
Successful case for modeling with Yeasen DSS
Successful acute colitis models are generated with Yeasen DSS (Cat#60316ES, MW: 36000~50000) in 7 days with prominent phenotype as shown in the following table.
Table 4 Construction of different types of enteritis models with DSS
BALB/c mice, female, 6-8 weeks, 25 g
3%-5% DSS drink freely for 7 consecutive days
Day 5 appeared, the length of the colon was shortened, HE staining, and the inflammation was obvious
molding speed is fast and the time is short. Consistent with the characteristics of acute colitis model
C57BL/6 mice, male, 8 weeks, 20 g
3%-5% DSS by gavage, continuous administration
Day 5 occurs, colon shortening, weight loss, blood in the stool, diarrhea
High mold rate and short duration. Consistent with the characteristics of acute colitis model
C57BL/6 mouse, male, 8 weeks, 22 g
1-2% DSS by gavage, continuous administration
Day40 appears, colon shortening, weight loss, blood in the stool, diarrhea
High molding rate . Consistent with the characteristics of the chronic colitis model
C57BL/6 mouse, male, 8 weeks, 21 g
1%-2% DSS ad libitum for 5 days for 3 weeks
14 weeks with shortened colon length, weight loss, HE staining, and obvious inflammation
High molding rate . Consistent with colon cancer model characteristics
Regardless of acute DSS colitis model or chronic DSS colitis model, the severity and success of enteritis are related to mouse species (different genetic backgrounds), DSS concentration, and dosing cycle.
Table 5 Common problems of DSS colitis modeling
high mortality in mice
DSS concentration too high
Decrease the concentration of DSS administered
Mice with no or low symptoms of enteritis
DSS concentration too low
Increase DSS dosing concentration; decrease cycle interval (10-14 days)
In the same group of mice, the symptoms of enteritis vary greatly
bottle cap clogged
Check the mouse drinking bottle daily
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Published articles with our reagents:
 Lujuan Xing, Lijuan Fu, Songmin Cao,et al.The Anti-Inflammatory Effect of Bovine Bone-Gelatin-Derived Peptides in LPS-Induced RAW264.7 Macrophages Cells and Dextran Sulfate Sodium-Induced C57BL/6 Mice[J]. Nutrients 2022, 14, 1479. IF=5.717
 Lei-NingChen,TaoJing,Zi-BinLin,et al.Metabolomic and transcriptomic responses of mouse testis to the dextran sulfate sodium induced colitis[J].Reproductive Toxicology.2022, Pages 35-42.IF=3.143
 YuangengLi,PingYu,WenwenFu,et al.Polysaccharides from Panax ginseng C. A. Meyer alleviated DSS-induced IBD by inhibiting JAK2/STAT1/NLPR3 inflammasome signalling pathway in mice[J].Journal of Functional Foods.2022, 105013. IF=4.451
 Wang S, Huang J, Tan KS, et al.Isosteviol Sodium Ameliorates Dextran Sodium Sulfate-Induced Chronic Colitis through the Regulation of Metabolic Profiling, Macrophage Polarization, and NF-B Pathway[J].Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 2022,4636618. IF=5.076
 Hao H, Zhang X, Tong L, Liu Q,et al.Lactobacillus plantarumEffect of Extracellular Vesicles Derived From Q7 on Gut Microbiota and Ulcerative Colitis in Mice[J].Frontiers in Immunology.2021.777147 .IF=7.561
 Lingjun Tong, Xinyi Zhang , Haining Hao,et al.Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG Derived Extracellular Vesicles Modulate Gut Microbiota and Attenuate Inflammatory in DSS-Induced Colitis Mice[J].Nutrients.2021, 13, 3319. IF=5.717
 Zhipeng Gu , Yujie Zhu, Fengfeng Mei,et al.Tilapia head glycolipids protect mice against dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis by ameliorating the gut barrier and suppressing NF-kappa B signaling pathway[J].International Immunopharmacology.96 (2021) 107802. IF=3.943
 Yaohua Fan,Yanqun Fan,Kunfeng Liu,et al.Edible Bird’s Nest Ameliorates Dextran Sulfate Sodium-Induced Ulcerative Colitis in C57BL/6J Mice by Restoring the Th17/Treg Cell Balance[J].Frontiers in Pharmacology.2021.632602.IF=7.561
 Jia-Rong Huang, Sheng-Te Wang, Meng-Ning Wei,et al.Piperlongumine Alleviates Mouse Colitis and Colitis-Associated Colorectal Cancer[J].Frontiers in Pharmacology.2020.586885. IF=7.561
 Gao X, Fan W, Tan L, et al. Soy isoflavones ameliorate experimental colitis by targeting ERα/NLRP3 inflammasome pathways[J]. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 2020, 83.IF=6.048
 Li, Y., Dong, J., Xiao, H., Zhang, S., Wang, B., Cui, M., & Fan, S. Gut commensal derived-valeric acid protects against radiation injuries. Gut Microbes,.2020 .1–18.IF=10.245
 Oehlers SH, Flores MV, Hall CJ, Crosier KE, Crosier PS. Retinoic acid suppresses intestinal mucus production and exacerbates experimental enterocolitis. Dis Model Mech. 2012 Jul;5(4):457-67.IF=4.973
 Kim CJ, Kovacs-Nolan JA, Yang C, Archbold T, Fan MZ, Mine Y. l-Tryptophan exhibits therapeutic function in a porcine model of dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced colitis. J Nutr Biochem . 2010 Jun;21(6):468-75.IF=6.048
 Karpowicz , P., Perez, J. & Perrimon , N.,. The Hippo tumor suppressor pathway regulates intestinal stem cell regeneration. Development (Cambridge, England), 2010,137(24), pp.4135–4145.IF=6.868
 Fan H, Chen W, Zhu J, et al. Toosendanin alleviates dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis by inhibiting M1 macrophage polarization and regulating NLRP3 inflflammasome and Nrf2/HO-1 signaling[J]. International immunopharmacology, 2019, 76: 105909.IF=3.943