Anticachectic effects of Coptidis rhizoma, an anti-inflammatory herb, on esophageal cancer cells that produce interleukin 6

Cancer Lett. 2000 Sep 29;158(1):35-41. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3835(00)00496-1.


Herbs as alternative cancer therapies have attracted a great deal of recent attention due to their low toxicity and costs. In this study, the antitumor activity and anticachectic effect of Coptidis rhizoma, an anti-inflammatory herb, were investigated in nude mice carrying a human esophageal cancer cell line YES-2, which constitutively secretes interleukin-6 (IL-6) and induces cachexia when injected into these mice. In this study, in vivo growth of YES-2 cells was not affected by an oral supplement containing the extract powder of C. rhizoma at a final concentration of 1% (CR supplement). However, in comparison with normal diet, CR supplement significantly attenuated weight loss of tumor-bearing mice without a change in food or water intake. Tumor IL-6 levels were significantly lower in mice treated with CR supplement than in control mice (P<0.001). Serum IL-6 was detectable in four (50%) of eight control mice; IL-6 was not detected in mice treated with CR supplement. We also confirmed that berberine (8-32 microM), a major component of C. rhizoma, dose-dependently inhibited secretion of IL-6 by YES-2 cells in vitro. Moreover, reverse transcription-PCR assay showed that treatment of YES-2 cells with berberine (8-32 microM) for 24 h reduced IL-6 mRNA expression. Our results suggest that C. rhizoma may have an anticachectic effect on esophageal cancer and an effect is associated with the ability of berberine to down-regulate tumor IL-6 production.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Berberine / pharmacology
  • Cachexia / drug therapy*
  • Cachexia / etiology
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Down-Regulation
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / complications
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Interleukin-6 / biosynthesis*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Plants, Medicinal / chemistry*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Interleukin-6
  • Plant Extracts
  • Berberine