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Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2018 Dec 11. doi: 10.2174/1871520619666181211121405. [Epub ahead of print]

Berberine Effects on NFκB, HIF1A and NFE2L2/AP-1 Pathways in HeLa Cells.

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Biomedical Innovations LLC, 112 Mechnikova st., 344013, Rostov-on-Don. Russian Federation.
English language department for natural sciences faculties, Southern federal university, 5 Sorge st., 344090, Rostov-on-Don. Russian Federation.
Rostov state medical university, 119 Suvorova st., 344022, Rostov-on-Don. Russian Federation.
Division of Clinical Therapeutics, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, 80 Vas. Sofias Av., 11521, Athens. Russian Federation.



Berberine has multitudinous anti-cancer stem cells effects making it a highly promising candidate substance for the next-generation cancer therapy. However, berberine modes of action predispose it to significant side-effects that probably limit its clinical testing and application.


HeLa cells were treated with two concentrations of berberine (30 and 100 μM) for 24 hours to asses the functioning of the NFE2L2/AP-1, NFκB and HIF1A pathways using 22 RNAs expression qPCR-based analysis.


Berberine effects appeared to be highly dose-dependent, with the lower concentration being capable of suppressing the NFκB functioning and the higher concentration causing severe signaling side-effects seen in the HIF1A pathway and the NFE2L2 sub-pathways, and especially and more importantly in the AP-1 sub-pathway.


The results of the study suggest that berberine has clinically valuable anti-NFκB effects however jeopardized by its side effects on the HIF1A and especially NFE2L2/AP-1 pathways, its therapeutic window phenomenon and its cancer type-specificity. These, however, may be ameliorated using the cocktail approach, provided there is enough data on signaling effects of barbering.


AP-1; Berberine; HIF1A; HeLa cells; NFE2L2; NFκB; mRNA; pre-mRNA; signaling pathways

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