The present study is to investigate the effect of berberine on the expression of inflammatory factors interleukin (IL)-2 and IL-10, and the expression of apoptosis proteins Bcl-2 and Bax. A total of 70 SD rats were randomly divided into 7 equal groups, including normal non-pregnant group, normal pregnant group, preeclampsia group, preeclampsia + berberine (50, 100, and 200 mg/kg/day) groups, and preeclampsia + nifedipine (20 mg/kg/day) group. Blood pressure was measured before pregnancy, and on day 15 and 21 of pregnancy. Urines before pregnancy and on day 15 and 21 of pregnancy were collected for the determination of urine protein levels. Peripheral blood was collected from all rats on day 21 of pregnancy to measure the levels of blood urea nitrogen and creatinine. On day 21 of pregnancy, the weight of fetuses and placentas, and the number of normal fetuses were determined. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was performed to determine the levels of IL-2 and IL-10 in plasma. Western blotting was used to measure the expression of Bcl-2 and Bax proteins in placenta of rats with preeclampsia. Treatment with berberine for seven days reduced blood pressure, urine proteins levels, and kidney function in rats with preeclampsia. Berberine improved the number of normal fetuses and the weight of fetuses and placentas from rats with preeclampsia. Berberine up-regulated IL-10 and down-regulated IL-2 in the peripheral blood of SD rats with preeclampsia. Berberine up-regulated Bcl-2 and down-regulated Bax in the placenta of SD rats with preeclampsia. Berberine increases the number and weight of normal fetuses in rats with preeclampsia, possibly by regulating the balance of IL-2 and IL-10, and inhibiting apoptosis.
Keywords: Berberine; apoptosis; inflammatory factors; preeclampsia.