Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e54349. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054349. Epub 2013 Jan 23.

Inhibition of P-glycoprotein by HIV protease inhibitors increases intracellular accumulation of berberine in murine and human macrophages.

Author information

  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, United States of America.



HIV protease inhibitor (PI)-induced inflammatory response in macrophages is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. We have previously reported that berberine (BBR), a traditional herbal medicine, prevents HIV PI-induced inflammatory response through inhibiting endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in macrophages. We also found that HIV PIs significantly increased the intracellular concentrations of BBR in macrophages. However, the underlying mechanisms of HIV PI-induced BBR accumulation are unknown. This study examined the role of P-glycoprotein (P-gp) in HIV PI-mediated accumulation of BBR in macrophages.


Cultured mouse RAW264.7 macrophages, human THP-1-derived macrophages, Wild type MDCK (MDCK/WT) and human P-gp transfected (MDCK/P-gp) cells were used in this study. The intracellular concentration of BBR was determined by HPLC. The activity of P-gp was assessed by measuring digoxin and rhodamine 123 (Rh123) efflux. The interaction between P-gp and BBR or HIV PIs was predicated by Glide docking using Schrodinger program. The results indicate that P-gp contributed to the efflux of BBR in macrophages. HIV PIs significantly increased BBR concentrations in macrophages; however, BBR did not alter cellular HIV PI concentrations. Although HIV PIs did not affect P-gp expression, P-gp transport activities were significantly inhibited in HIV PI-treated macrophages. Furthermore, the molecular docking study suggests that both HIV PIs and BBR fit the binding pocket of P-gp, and HIV PIs may compete with BBR to bind P-gp.


HIV PIs increase the concentration of BBR by modulating the transport activity of P-gp in macrophages. Understanding the cellular mechanisms of potential drug-drug interactions is critical prior to applying successful combinational therapy in the clinic.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk