Berberine inhibits acute radiation intestinal syndrome in human with abdomen radiotherapy

Med Oncol. 2010 Sep;27(3):919-25. doi: 10.1007/s12032-009-9307-8. Epub 2009 Sep 16.


Radiation-induced acute intestinal symptoms (RIAISs) are the most relevant complication of abdominal or pelvic radiation. Considering the negative impact of RIAIS on patients' daily activities, the preventive effects of berberine on RIAIS in patients were investigated. Thirty-six patients with seminoma or lymphomas were randomized to receive berberine oral (n = 18) or not (n = 18). Forty-two patients with cervical cancer were randomized to a trial group (n = 21) and control group (n = 21). Radiotherapy used a parallel opposed anterior and posterior. 300-mg berberine was administered orally three times daily in trial groups. Eight patients with RIAIS were treated with 300-mg berberine three times daily from the third to the fifth week. Toxicities, such as fatigue, anorexia/nausea, etc., were graded weekly according to CTC version 2.0. Patients with abdominal/pelvic radiation in the control group showed grade 1 fatigue, anorexia/nausea, colitis, vomiting, proctitis, weight loss, diarrhea and grade 2 anorexia/nausea, fatigue. Only grade 1 colitis, anorexia/nausea, and fatigue were seen in patients of abdominal radiation treated with berberine. Grade 1 fatigue, colitis, anorexia/nausea, and proctitis occurred in patients of pelvic radiotherapy treated with berberine. Pretreatment with berberine significantly decreased the incidence and severity of RIAIS in patients with abdominal/pelvic radiotherapy when compared with the patients of the control group (P < 0.05). RIAIS were reduced in patients with abdominal radiotherapy/pelvic radiation after receiving berberine treatment. Berberine significantly reduced the incidence and severity of RIAIS and postponed the occurrence of RIAIS in patients with abdominal or whole pelvic radiation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / radiation effects
  • Acute Disease
  • Acute Radiation Syndrome / etiology
  • Acute Radiation Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Berberine / administration & dosage
  • Berberine / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / radiotherapy
  • Colitis / etiology
  • Colitis / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Diseases / etiology
  • Intestinal Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Lymphatic Irradiation / adverse effects*
  • Lymphoma / radiotherapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pelvis / radiation effects
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Proctitis / etiology
  • Proctitis / prevention & control
  • Radiation Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Radiation-Protective Agents / administration & dosage
  • Radiation-Protective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Radiotherapy, High-Energy / adverse effects*
  • Seminoma / radiotherapy
  • Testicular Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / radiotherapy


  • Radiation-Protective Agents
  • Berberine