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ScientificWorldJournal. 2012;2012:708292. doi: 10.1100/2012/708292. Epub 2012 Nov 13.

Interaction of herbal compounds with biological targets: a case study with berberine.

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Department of General Surgery, The First People's Hospital of Shunde, Southern Medical University, Shunde, Guangdong 528300, China.


Berberine is one of the main alkaloids found in the Chinese herb Huang lian (Rhizoma Coptidis), which has been reported to have multiple pharmacological activities. This study aimed to analyze the molecular targets of berberine based on literature data followed by a pathway analysis using the PANTHER program. PANTHER analysis of berberine targets showed that the most classes of molecular functions include receptor binding, kinase activity, protein binding, transcription activity, DNA binding, and kinase regulator activity. Based on the biological process classification of in vitro berberine targets, those targets related to signal transduction, intracellular signalling cascade, cell surface receptor-linked signal transduction, cell motion, cell cycle control, immunity system process, and protein metabolic process are most frequently involved. In addition, berberine was found to interact with a mixture of biological pathways, such as Alzheimer's disease-presenilin and -secretase pathways, angiogenesis, apoptosis signalling pathway, FAS signalling pathway, Hungtington disease, inflammation mediated by chemokine and cytokine signalling pathways, interleukin signalling pathway, and p53 pathways. We also explored the possible mechanism of action for the anti-diabetic effect of berberine. Further studies are warranted to elucidate the mechanisms of action of berberine using systems biology approach.

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