The incidence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has increased considerably over the past few decades. In the present review, we discuss several disadvantages existing in the treatment of IBD and current understandings of the structures, sources, and natures of various kinds of non-starch polysaccharides (NSPs). Available evidences for the use of different sources of NSPs in IBD treatment both in vitro and in vivo are analyzed, including glucan from oat bran, mushroom, seaweed, pectin, gum, prebiotics, etc. Their potential mechanisms, especially their related molecular mechanism of protective action in the treatment and prevention of IBD, are also summarized, covering the anti-inflammation, immune-stimulating, and gut microbiota-modulating activities, as well as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) production, anti-oxidative stress accompanied with inflammation, the promotion of gastric epithelial cell proliferation and tissue healing, and the reduction of the absorption of toxins of NSPs, thus ameliorating the symptoms and reducing the reoccurrence rate of IBD. In summary, NSPs exhibit the potential to be promising agents for an adjuvant therapy and for the prevention of IBD. Further investigating of the crosstalk between immune cells, epithelial cells, and gut microorganisms in addition to evaluating the effects of different kinds and different molecular weights of NSPs will lead to well-designed clinical intervention trials and eventually improve the treatment and prevention of IBD.
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