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Eur J Pharmacol. 2009 Oct 12;620(1-3):131-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2009.07.027. Epub 2009 Aug 15.

Ameliorative effect of berberine on endothelial dysfunction in diabetic rats induced by high-fat diet and streptozotocin.

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Department of Pharmacology, Bethune Medical College of Jilin University, Changchun, PR China.


Berberine can improve insulin resistance, lower blood glucose, and regulate lipid metabolism disorders which cause endothelial dysfunction, leading to vascular complications of type 2 diabetes mellitus. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of berberine on endothelial dysfunction of aortas in type 2 diabetes mellitus rats and its mechanism. Wistar rats were randomly divided into four groups: diabetic rats, control rats, diabetic rats treated with berberine (100 mg/kg), and control rats treated with berberine. The serum fasting blood glucose, insulin, total cholesterol, triglyceride and nitric oxide (NO) levels were tested. Acetylcholine-induced endothelium-dependent relaxation and sodium nitroprusside induced endothelium-independent relaxation were measured in aortas for estimating endothelial function. The expression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) mRNA was measured by RT-PCR, and the protein expressions of eNOS and NADPH oxidase (NOX4) were analyzed by western blot. The results showed that berberine significantly decreased fasting blood glucose, and triglyceride levels in diabetic rats. Berberine also improved endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation impaired in aorta. The expressions of eNOS mRNA and protein were significantly increased, while NOX4 protein expression was decreased in aortas from diabetic rats with berberine treatment. Moreover, serum NO levels were elevated after berberine treatment. In conclusion, berberine restores diabetic endothelial dysfunction through enhanced NO bioavailability by up-regulating eNOS expression and down-regulating expression of NADPH oxidase.

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