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Front Microbiol. 2019 May 9;10:1066. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.01066. eCollection 2019.

Berberine Influences Blood Glucose via Modulating the Gut Microbiome in Grass Carp.

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Key Laboratory of Tropical and Subtropical Fishery Resources Application and Cultivation, Pearl River Fisheries Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences, Guangzhou, China.
Business School of Hunan University, Changsha, China.
Health Time Gene Institute, Shenzhen, China.
State Key Laboratory of Biocontrol, School of Life Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China.
State Key Academic Discipline of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou, China.


Berberine (BBR), an isoquinoline alkaloid, is a major pharmacological component of the Chinese herb Coptis chinensis, which has been listed in the Chinese Fisheries Pharmacopeia as a common drug for the control of bacterial fish diseases. However, BBR is poorly absorbed into the systemic circulation but is significantly accumulated in the intestine. It is difficult to explain the mechanism of clinical effects of BBR based on systemic genes and pathways; it has been proved that the function of BBR in mammals is associated with the host metabolic phenotypes mediated by the structural modulation of gut microbiota. The mechanism of pharmacological effects of BBR in fish remains unclear. Here, we fed grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus) a diet supplemented with BBR at a dose of 30 mg/Kg body weight daily and compared them with grass carp fed a regular fish feed diet. Biochemical analysis revealed that fish fed BBR had significantly reduced serum glucose, total cholesterol (TC), and triglyceride (TG) levels, and increased TC (p < 0.05) and TG (p < 0.01) levels in the liver. Deep amplicon sequencing of the V4 region of 16S rRNA genes of the gut microbiota revealed: (i) the composition of gut microbiota after BBR feeding was more diverse than that in the control group; (ii)before fish were fed BBR, the enriched operational taxonomic units (OTUs) mainly belonged to Firmicutes while most enriched OTUs came from Proteobacteria, Planctomycetes, Bacteroidetes, and Firmicutes during BBR feeding and after BBR feeding stopped; (iii) the ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes was significantly decreased in fish fed BBR. Spearman's rank correlation showed that 32 berberine-OTUs were significantly negative correlated with glucose (p < 0.05). It indicates that BBR may affect the levels of serum glucose by the structural modulation of gut microbiota. Our results provide insight into the effect of BBR on fish metabolism and gut microbiomes, which would be beneficial for the fish welfare.


berberine; blood glucose; freshwater fish; gut microbiome; lipids

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