Berberine inhibits the expression of hypoxia induction factor-1alpha and increases the radiosensitivity of prostate cancer

Diagn Pathol. 2014 May 27;9:98. doi: 10.1186/1746-1596-9-98.


Background: The radiation resistance of prostate cancer remains the primary obstacle to improve patient survival. This study aimed to investigate the effects of berberine, a commonly used natural product, on the radiosensitivity of prostate cancer.

Methods: Prostate cancer cell line LNCaP and DU-145 were subjected to hypoxia and/or ionizing radiation (IR), in the presence or absence of berberine treatment. Cell growth and colony formation, and apoptosis were evaluated. Moreover, LNCaP cells were xenografted into nude mice and subjected to IR and/or berberine treatment. The expression of HIF-1α and VEGF in prostate cancer cells and xenografts was detected by Western blot analysis.

Results: Berberine increased radiosensitivity of prostate cancer cells and xenografts in a dose dependent manner, and this was correlated with the inhibition of HIF-1α and VEGF expression.

Conclusions: Berberine may inhibit the expression of HIF-1α and VEGF and thus confer radiosensitivity on prostatic cancer cells. Berberine has potential application as an adjuvant in radiotherapy of prostatic cancer.

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MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / radiation effects
  • Berberine / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / radiation effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Radiation Tolerance / drug effects*
  • Radiation-Sensitizing Agents / pharmacology*
  • Time Factors
  • Up-Regulation
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • HIF1A protein, human
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • Radiation-Sensitizing Agents
  • VEGFA protein, human
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Berberine