Berberine as a promising anti-diabetic nephropathy drug: An analysis of its effects and mechanisms

Eur J Pharmacol. 2015 Aug 5;760:103-12. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2015.04.017. Epub 2015 Apr 24.


Diabetic nephropathy is a progressive kidney disorder and is pathologically characterized by thickened glomerular and tubular basement membranes, accumulation of the extracellular matrix and increased mesangial hypertrophy. Growing evidence has suggested that diabetic nephropathy is induced by multiple factors, such as dyslipidemia, hyperglycemia, hemodynamic abnormalities and oxidative stress, based on genetic susceptibility. Berberine (BBR; [C20H18NO4](+)), an isoquinoline alkaloid, is the major active constituent of Rhizoma coptidis and Cortex phellodendri. Recent studies have demonstrated that berberine has various pharmacological activities, including lowering blood glucose, regulating blood lipids and reducing inflammation in addition to its antioxidant activity. These findings suggest that berberine has potential applications as a therapeutic drug for diabetic nephropathy, and has significant research value. However, the possible mechanisms have not been fully established. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the renoprotective mechanisms of berberine in diabetic nephropathy and highlight the importance of berberine as a potential therapeutic reagent for diabetic nephropathy treatment.

Keywords: Berberine; Diabetic nephropathy; Mechanisms; Renoprotection; Signaling pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Berberine / chemistry
  • Berberine / pharmacology
  • Berberine / therapeutic use*
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / metabolism
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / drug therapy*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / chemistry
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Blood Glucose
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Berberine