Berberine Alleviates Paclitaxel-Induced Neuropathy

J Pharmacopuncture. 2019 Jun;22(2):90-94. doi: 10.3831/KPI.2019.22.011. Epub 2019 Jun 30.


Objectives: Paclitaxel (PTX) as an anticancer drug used against solid cancers, possesses adverse reactions such as neuropathic pain which has confined its use. PTX-induced neuropathic pain is mediated via activation of oxidative stress. Berberine (BER), an isoquinoline phytochemical found in several plants, exerts strong antioxidant and painkilling properties. In the current study, we aimed to evaluate pain-relieving effect of BER in a mouse model of PTX-induced neuropathic pain.

Methods: This study was done using 42 male albino mice that were randomly divided into 6 groups (n = 7) as follow: Sham-operated (not treated with PTX), negative control group (PTX-treated mice receiving normal saline), BER 5, 10, and 20 mg/kg (PTX-treated mice receiving BER) and positive control group (PTX-treated mice receiving imipramine 10 mg/kg). Neuropathic pain was induced by intraperitoneal administration of four doses of PTX (2 mg/kg/day) on days 1, 3, 5 and 7. Then, on day 7, hot plate test was done to assess latency to heat to measure possible anti-neuropathic pain effect of BER.

Results: Four doses of PTX 2 mg/kg/day induced neuropathy that was reduced by BER at all time-points (i.e. 0, 30, 60, 90 and 120 min) after injection (P < 0.001 in comparison to control). The statistical analysis of data showed significant differences between groups (P < 0.001 in comparison to negative control), at 30, 60, 90 and 120 min after injection of BER 5, 10 and 20 mg/kg; in other words, 30, 60, 90 and 120 min after BER administration, neuropathic pain was significantly reduced as compared to normal saline-treated mice.

Conclusion: Altogether, our results showed that PTX could induce neuropathic pain as reflected by hyperalgesia and BER could alleviate PTX-induced thermal hyperalgesia.

Keywords: berberine; heat hyperalgesia; mice; neuropathic pain; paclitaxel.