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Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:6983956. doi: 10.1155/2016/6983956. Epub 2016 Jul 13.

Berberine Protects Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells against LPS-Induced Apoptosis by Blocking JNK-Mediated Signaling.

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Department of Clinical Medicine, Zhejiang University City College School of Medicine, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310015, China.
Department of Endocrinology, Zhejiang Provincial People's Hospital, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310014, China.


Endothelial dysfunction is a critical factor during the initiation of atherosclerosis. Berberine has a beneficial effect on endothelial function; however, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. In this study, we investigated the effects of berberine on lipopolysaccharide- (LPS-) induced apoptosis in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) and the molecular mechanisms mediating the effect. The effects of berberine on LPS-induced cell apoptosis and viability were measured with 5-ethynyl-2'-deoxyuridine staining, flow cytometry, and Cell Counting Kit-8 assays. The expression and/or activation of proapoptotic and antiapoptotic proteins or signaling pathways, including caspase-3, poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase, myeloid cell leukemia-1 (MCL-1), p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase, C-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and extracellular signal-regulated kinase, were determined with western blotting. The malondialdehyde levels, superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, and production of proinflammatory cytokines were measured with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. The results demonstrated that berberine pretreatment protected HUVECs from LPS-induced apoptosis, attenuated LPS-induced injury, inhibited LPS-induced JNK phosphorylation, increased MCL-1 expression and SOD activity, and decreased proinflammatory cytokine production. The effects of berberine on LPS-treated HUVECs were prevented by SP600125, a JNK-specific inhibitor. Thus, berberine might be a potential candidate in the treatment of endothelial cell injury-related vascular diseases.

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