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Biol Pharm Bull. 2012;35(5):796-800.

Protective effects of berberine on doxorubicin-induced hepatotoxicity in mice.

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College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Southwest University, Chongqing, China.


Doxorubicin, a very potent and often used anti-cancer drug, is largely limited due to the dose-related toxic effects. The present study investigated whether berberine, a natural product alkaloid, can reduce the liver injury induced by doxorubicin. Mice of either gender were randomly divided into four groups: the control group, doxorubicin group, berberine group, and berberine+doxorubicin group. In the tests, body weight, general condition and mortality of the mice were observed, and serum alanine aminotransferase and aspartate transaminase levels were determined to evaluate liver function. Furthermore, the liver was excised for determination of the weight changes, as well as histopathological analysis in the tissues. Mortality rate and significant decline in body weight, and increased plasma alanine aminotransferase and aspartate transaminase activities were observed in doxorubicin-treated mice. These changes were significantly prevented by pretreatment with berberine. Histopathological studies showed that doxorubicin caused structural injuries, such as vascular congestion, inflammatory cell infiltration, hepatocellular degeneration and necrosis, fibrosis in the liver. These histopathological changes were largely attenuated by berberine pretreatment. These findings indicate that berberine has the hepatoprotective effect on doxorubicin-induced liver injury in mice.

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