Berberine reduces the expression of adipogenic enzymes and inflammatory molecules of 3T3-L1 adipocyte

Exp Mol Med. 2006 Dec 31;38(6):599-605. doi: 10.1038/emm.2006.71.


Berberine (BBR), an isoquinoline alkaloid, has a wide range of pharmacological effects, yet its exact mechanism is unknown. In order to understand the anti-adipogenic effect of BBR, we studied the change of expression of several adipogenic enzymes of 3T3-L1 cells by BBR treatment. First, we measured the change of leptin and glycerol in the medium of 3T3-L1 cells treated with 1 micrometer, 5 micrometer and 10 micrometer concentrations of BBR. We also measured the changes of adipogenic and lipolytic factors of 3T3-L1. In 3T3-L1 cells, both leptin and adipogenic factors (SREBP-1c, C/EBP-alpha, PPAR-gamma, fatty acid synthase, acetyl-CoA carboxylase, acyl-CoA synthase and lipoprotein lipase) were reduced by BBR treatment. Glycerol secretion was increased, whereas expression of lipolytic enzymes (hormone-sensitive lipase and perilipin) mRNA was slightly decreased. Next, we measured the change of inflammation markers of 3T3-L1 cells by BBR treatment. This resulted in the down-regulation of mRNA level of inflammation markers such as TNF-alpha, IL-6, C- reactive protein and haptoglobin. Taken together, our data shows that BBR has both anti-adipogenic and anti-inflammatory effects on 3T3-L1 adipocytes, and the anti-adipogenic effect seems to be due to the down-regulation of adipogenic enzymes and transcription factors.

MeSH terms

  • 3T3-L1 Cells
  • Adipocytes / drug effects*
  • Adipocytes / enzymology
  • Adipocytes / metabolism*
  • Adipogenesis / drug effects
  • Adipogenesis / genetics
  • Animals
  • Berberine / pharmacology*
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Glycerol / metabolism
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism*
  • Leptin / metabolism
  • Mice
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism


  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Leptin
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Berberine
  • Glycerol