Potential of berberine to enhance antimicrobial activity of commonly used antibiotics for dairy cow mastitis caused by multiple drug-resistant Staphylococcus epidermidis infection

Genet Mol Res. 2015 Aug 19;14(3):9683-92. doi: 10.4238/2015.August.19.1.


Berberine is a plant alkaloid with antimicrobial activity against a variety of microorganisms. In this study, the antimicrobial properties of berberine against multi-drug resistant field isolates of Staphylococcus epidermidis were investigated using berberine alone or in combination with a commonly used antibiotics in veterinary clinics, including penicillin, lincomycin, and amoxicillin. The results indicated that the minimum inhibitory concentrations of berberine, penicillin, lincomycin, and amoxicillin against field S. epidermidis isolates were 2-512, 0.8-213, 0.4-1024, and 0.4-256 mg/mL, respectively. Furthermore, the synergistic effects of antimicrobial activity against these multi-drug resistant isolates were observed when the berberine was combined with penicillin, lincomycin, or amoxicillin; no antagonistic effect of the combination was detected in any of the clinical isolates. These observations were further confirmed using a time-killing assay, in which a combination of 2 agents yielded a greater than 2.03-2.44 log10 decrease in colony-forming unit/mL compared with each agent alone. These findings suggest that berberine is a promising compound for preventing and treating multi-drug resistant S. epidermidis infected mastitis in dairy cows either alone or in combination with other commonly used antibiotics, such as penicillin, lincomycin, and amoxicillin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Berberine / pharmacology*
  • Cattle
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Female
  • Mastitis, Bovine / drug therapy
  • Mastitis, Bovine / microbiology*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Staphylococcal Infections / drug therapy
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology*
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis / drug effects*
  • Time Factors


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Berberine