Berberine-induced upregulation of circulating endothelial progenitor cells is related to nitric oxide production in healthy subjects

Cardiology. 2009;112(4):279-86. doi: 10.1159/000157336. Epub 2008 Sep 25.


Objectives: Berberine (BR) has a beneficial effect on endothelial function by increasing nitric oxide (NO), as NO plays a pivotal role in the regulation of endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) mobilization and function. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether BR-induced upregulation of circulating EPCs is related to NO production in healthy subjects.

Methods: Twenty volunteers were recruited and received 400 mg of BR 3 times a day for 30 days. We assessed the number of EPC colony-forming units (EPC-CFUs), as well as the proliferative, adhesive and migratory activities of circulating EPCs before and after the 30-day BR therapy. The level of plasma NO was also measured before and after the 30-day BR therapy.

Results: After 30 days of BR therapy, the number of EPC-CFUs was increased and the function of EPCs, including proliferation, adhesion and migration, was augmented. In parallel, BR therapy enhanced the plasma NO level. There was a significant linear regression relationship between the enhanced plasma NO level and the increased number and function of circulating EPCs.

Conclusions: BR-induced upregulation of the number and function of circulating EPCs in healthy subjects is related to NO production.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Berberine / pharmacology*
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects*
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitric Oxide / biosynthesis*
  • Nitric Oxide / blood
  • Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects


  • Berberine
  • Nitric Oxide