Modulation of Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis by Berberine Resulting in Improved Metabolic Status in High-Fat Diet-Fed Rats

Obes Facts. 2016;9(6):365-378. doi: 10.1159/000449507. Epub 2016 Nov 30.


Objective: To investigate whether or not berberine could improve metabolic status of high-fat-fed rats through modulation of microbiota-gut-brain axis.

Methods: Berberine was administered on high-fat-fed Sprague-Dawley rats. Brain-gut hormones were detected, and changes of gut microbiota were analyzed by 16S rRNA gene sequencing.

Results: Berberine could reduce weight gain and lipolysis in the high-fat diet-fed group. Moreover, trends of ameliorated insulin resistance and decreased endogenous glucose production were observed. In addition, the microbiota-gut-brain axis was found to be modulated, including structural and diversity changes of microbiota, elevated serum glucagon-like peptide-1 and neuropeptide Y level, decreased orexin A level, up-regulated glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor mRNA level as well as ultra-structural improvement of the hypothalamus.

Conclusion: Taken together, our findings suggest that berberine improved metabolic disorders induced by high-fat diet through modulation of the microbiota-gut-brain axis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Berberine / pharmacology*
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Diet, High-Fat
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects*
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Intestines / drug effects*
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Intestines / physiology
  • Male
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Weight Gain / drug effects


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Berberine
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1