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Mol Cells. 2005 Dec 31;20(3):429-34.

Berberine inhibits the production of lysophosphatidylcholine-induced reactive oxygen species and the ERK1/2 pathway in vascular smooth muscle cells.

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Yonsei Research Institute of Aging Science, Yonsei University, Seoul 120-749, Korea.


Lysophosphatidylcholine (lysoPC) induces vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) proliferation and migration, which has been proposed to initiate the intimal thickening in coronary atherosclerotic lesions. Berberine is an alkaloid in Berberis aquifolium and many other plants. Recently, it has been shown to have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system, such as anti-hyperglycemic and cholesterol-lowering activity. In this study, we investigated its effects on lysoPC-induced VSMC proliferation and migration. Berberine inhibited lysoPC-induced DNA synthesis and cell proliferation in VSMCs, as well as migration of the lysoPC-stimulated VSMCs. It also inhibited the activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERKs) and reduced transcription factor AP-1 activity and the lysoPC-induced increases in intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS). These results indicate that the inhibitory effects of berberine on lysoPC-stimulated VSMC proliferation and migration are attributable to inhibition of ROS generation and hence of activation of the ERK1/2 pathway. This suggests that berberine has potential in the prevention of atherosclerosis and restenosis.

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