Metformin and berberine are often combined for treating diabetes. In the present study, we evaluated the drug-drug pharmacokinetic interaction between metformin and berberine after oral co-administration in vivo and the underlying mechanism. As revealed by comparison with the metformin-only group, berberine significantly decreased the maximum plasma concentration (Cmax), area under the curve from 0 to 4 h (AUC0-4h), and urinary and bile excretion, and increased the kidney tissue concentration of metformin in rats. The non-everted intestinal sac study showed that berberine inhibited the absorption of metformin, and in transfected Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK)-rat organic cation transporter 1 (MDCK-rOCT1), MDCK-rat organic cation transporter 2 (MDCK-rOCT2), and MDCK-rat multidrug and toxin extrusion 1 (MDCK-rMATE1) cells, berberine significantly inhibited metformin transport mediated by OCT1, OCT2, and MATE1 in a concentration-dependent manner with half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) values of 18.8, 1.02, and 10.7 μM, respectively. In contrast, co-administration of metformin increased the Cmax and AUC0-4h of berberine with no significant difference in pharmacokinetics parameters between co-administration and berberine-only groups. Furthermore, metformin increased kidney and liver concentrations and reduced the urinary and biliary excretion of berberine. Metformin (≥1 or ≥0.3 mM) decreased berberine transport in MDCK-rOCT1, MDCK-rOCT2, and MDCK-rMATE1 cells. However, metformin did not affect berberine concentration in MDCK-multidrug resistance protein 1 cells. These results suggest that the combination of metformin and berberine induced a pharmacokinetic interaction by cooperatively inhibiting OCT and MATE1-mediated transport.
Keywords: Berberine; Metformin; Multidrug and toxin extrusion; Organic cation transporter; Pharmacokinetic interaction.
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