Biological Activity of Berberine-A Summary Update

Toxins (Basel). 2020 Nov 12;12(11):713. doi: 10.3390/toxins12110713.


Berberine is a plant metabolite belonging to the group of isoquinoline alkaloids with strong biological and pharmacological activity. Currently, berberine is receiving considerable interest due to its anticancer activity based on many biochemical pathways, especially its proapoptotic and anti-inflammatory activity. Therefore, the growing number of papers on berberine demands summarizing the knowledge and research trends. The efficacy of berberine in breast and colon cancers seems to be the most promising aspect. Many papers focus on novel therapeutic strategies based on new formulations or search for new active derivatives. The activity of berberine is very important as regards sensitization and support of anticancer therapy in combination with well-known but in some cases inefficient therapeutics. Currently, the compound is being assessed in many important clinical trials and is one of the most promising and intensively examined natural agents.

Keywords: anticancer; apoptosis; berberine; bioavailability; clinical trials; metabolic syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Berberine / pharmacology*
  • Berberine / therapeutic use*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / drug therapy
  • Drug Resistance
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy
  • Metabolic Diseases / drug therapy
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / drug therapy
  • Protective Agents / pharmacology
  • Protective Agents / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Protective Agents
  • Berberine