Berberine inhibits the proliferation of human uterine leiomyoma cells

Berberine inhibits proliferation of leiomyoma cells and may serve as a potential therapeutic agent for the medical treatment of uterine leiomyomas.

Hsiao-Li Wu, M.S., M.B.A., Tung-Yueh Chuang, Ph.D., Ayman Al-Hendy, M.D., Ph.D., Michael P. Diamond, M.D., Ricardo Azziz, M.D., M.B.A., M.P.H., Yen-Hao Chen, Ph.D.

Volume 103, Issue 4, Pages 1098-1106


To determine whether berberine (BBR), a naturally occurring plant-derived alkaloid, inhibits the proliferation of human uterine leiomyoma (UtLM) cells.

Laboratory research.


UtLM and normal human uterine smooth muscle (UtSMC) cell lines.

Treatment with [1] BBR (10, 20, and 50 μM), [2] BBR (20 and 50 μM) and/or 17β-estradiol (E2; 10 and 100 nM), and [3] BBR (20 and 50 μM) and/or progesterone (P4; 10 and 100 nM) for 24 or 72 hours.

Main Outcome Measure(s):
Cell proliferation, cell cycle, apoptosis, and related genes expression were determined.

BBR inhibited UtLM cell proliferation by inducing G2/M cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Cell cycle G2/M phase-related genes were altered by BBR treatment: the expression of cyclin A1, cyclin B1, and Cdk1 were down-regulated, while Cdk4, p21, and p53 were up-regulated. BBR-treated cells stained positively for annexin V and manifested increased BAX expression. E2- and P4-induced UtLM cell proliferation was blocked by BBR treatment. In marked contrast, even the highest concentration of BBR (50 μM) did not influence cell proliferation in UtSMC cells.

BBR selectively inhibits cellular proliferation and blocks E2- and P4-induced cell proliferation in UtLM but not in normal UtSMC cells. In addition, BBR did not demonstrate cytotoxicity effects in normal human UtSMCs. Our results suggest BBR could be a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of uterine leiomyoma.

  • Yen-Hao Chen

    No! We did not check the protein level yet.

    • Shvetha Zarek

      Thank you replying! We look forward to seeing your future studies on berberine. Hope you are able to confirm the protein expression soon.

  • Shvetha Zarek

    The authors provide interesting results suggesting that berberine, a natural alkaloid with anti-neoplastic effects, selectively target and inhibits uterine leiomyoma cells in culture. They provide evidence of changes in RNA gene expression cell cycle related genes as well as genes involved in the pathogenesis of leiomyomas. Have the authors confirmed the gene expression changes with protein expression of these genes?

Translate »