BackgroundThis study was to investigate the effect and its possible mechanism of fucoidan on the development of spontaneous autoimmune diabetes in non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice.Methods7-week-old NOD mice were randomly divided into three groups: control group, low-dose (300 mg/kg) and high-dose (600 mg/kg) fucoidan-treatment groups. After 5 weeks of treatment, 10 mice per group were randomly selected to be sacrificed after feces collection. The remaining 12 mice per group were fed until 26 weeks of age to assess the incidence of diabetes.ResultsTreatment with fucoidan increased serum insulin level, delayed the onset and decreased the development of diabetes in NOD mice. Fucoidan reduced the levels of strong Th1 proinflammatory cytokines, but induced Th2-bias ed. cytokine response. And dentridic cells (DCs) in fucoidan treatment group were characterized as low expression of MHC class II and CD86 molecules. TLR4 expressions and the downstream molecules in pancreas were down-regulated in fucoidan-treated groups. There were significant differences in the composition of gut flora between NOD control group and fucoidan group. Lactobacillus and Akkermansia were significantly enriched in fucoidan group.ConclusionsFucoidan could prevent the development of autoimmune diabetes in NOD mice via regulating DC/Treg induced immune tolerance, improving gut microecology, down-regulating TLR4 signaling pathway, and maintaining pancreatic internal environment.