Berberine alters the processing of Alzheimer’s amyloid precursor protein to decrease Abeta secretion

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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2007 Jan 12;352(2):498-502. Epub 2006 Nov 15.

Asai M, Iwata N, Yoshikawa A, Aizaki Y, Ishiura S, Saido TC, Maruyama K.

Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Saitama Medical University, 38 Moro-hongo, Iruma-gun, Saitama 350-0495, Japan.


Berberine is an isoquinoline alkaloid isolated from Coptidis rhizoma, a major herb widely used in Chinese herbal medicine. Berberine’s biological activity includes antidiarrheal, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory effects. Recent findings show that berberine prevents neuronal damage due to ischemia or oxidative stress and that it might act as a novel cholesterol-lowering compound. The accumulation of amyloid-beta peptide (Abeta) derived from amyloid precursor protein (APP) is a triggering event leading to the pathological cascade of Alzheimer’s disease (AD); therefore the inhibition of Abeta production should be a rational therapeutic strategy in the prevention and treatment of AD. Here, we report that berberine reduces Abeta levels by modulating APP processing in human neuroglioma H4 cells stably expressing Swedish-type of APP at the range of berberine concentration without cellular toxicity. Our results indicate that berberine would be a promising candidate for the treatment of AD.