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Eur J Pharmacol. 2011 Jan 25;651(1-3):168-75. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2010.10.076. Epub 2010 Nov 27.

Antiurolithic effect of berberine is mediated through multiple pathways.

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Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, The Aga Khan University Medical College, Karachi 74800, Pakistan.


Berberine is an isoquinoline alkaloid, occurring in nature as the main constituent of several plants with medicinal use in kidney stone disease. This work was undertaken to evaluate its antiurolithic potential and explore the possible underlying mechanism(s). Berberine was tested in vitro for the antioxidant effect and in vivo for diuretic and antiurolithic effects on an animal model of calcium oxalate urolithiasis. Berberine exhibited concentration-dependent (50-150μg/ml) antioxidant effect against ferrous-ascorbate induced lipid peroxidation in rat kidney homogenate with potency slightly higher than the reference antioxidant, butylated hydroxytoluene. In Wistar rats, berberine (5-20mg/kg) increased urine output accompanied by increased pH and Na(+) and K(+) excretion and decreased Ca(2+) excretion, similar to hydrochlorothiazide. In an animal model of calcium oxalate urolithiasis developed in male Wistar rats by adding 0.75% ethylene glycol in drinking water, berberine (10mg/kg) prevented as well as eliminated calcium oxalate crystal deposition in renal tubules and protected against deleterious effects of lithogenic treatment including weight loss, impaired renal function and oxidative stress, manifested as increased malondialdehyde and protein carbonyl contents, depleted GSH and decreased antioxidant enzyme activities of the kidneys. In naïve rats, berberine (10mg/kg) increased urine volume and pH and decreased Ca(2+) excretion. Results of this study suggest the presence of antiurolithic effects in berberine against calcium oxalate stones mediated through a combination of antioxidant, diuretic, urinary alkalinizing and hypocalciuric effects. These data invite future studies on berberine to establish its efficacy for clinical use.

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