Berberine combined with stachyose improves glycometabolism and gut microbiota through regulating colonic microRNA and gene expression in diabetic rats

Life Sci. 2021 Nov 1:284:119928. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2021.119928. Epub 2021 Sep 1.


Aims: Berberine is effective for type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), but has limited use in clinic. This study aims to evaluate the effect of berberine combined with stachyose on glycolipid metabolism and gut microbiota and to explore the underlying mechanisms in diabetic rats.

Main methods: Zucker diabetic fatty (ZDF) rats were orally administered berberine, stachyose and berberine combined with stachyose once daily for 69 days. The oral glucose tolerance and levels of blood glucose, insulin, triglyceride and total cholesterol were determined. The gut microbial profile, colonic miRNA and gene expression were assayed using Illumina sequencing. The quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to verify the expression of differentially expressed miRNAs and genes.

Key findings: Repeated treatments with berberine alone and combined with stachyose significantly reduced the blood glucose, improved the impaired glucose tolerance, and increased the abundance of beneficial Akkermansiaceae, decreased that of pathogenic Enterobacteriaceae in ZDF rats. Furthermore, combined treatment remarkably decreased the abundances of Desulfovibrionaceae and Proteobacteria in comparison to berberine. Combined treatment evidently decreased the expression of intestinal early growth response protein 1 (Egr1) and heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (Hbegf), and significantly increased the expression of miR-10a-5p, but berberine alone not.

Significance: Berberine combined with stachyose significantly improved glucose metabolism and reshaped gut microbiota in ZDF rats, especially decreased the abundance of pathogenic Desulfovibrionaceae and Proteobacteria compared to berberine alone, providing a novel strategy for treating T2DM. The underlying mechanisms may be associated with regulating the expression of intestinal Egr1, Hbegf and miR-10a-5p, but remains further elucidation.

Keywords: Berberine; Glycometabolism; Gut microbiota; Intestinal mRNA; Intestinal microRNA; Stachyose.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Berberine / pharmacology*
  • Colon / drug effects
  • Colon / metabolism*
  • Colon / microbiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / genetics*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / microbiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / genetics
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome* / drug effects
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome* / genetics
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation* / drug effects
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Oligosaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Zucker
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Transcriptome / genetics


  • MicroRNAs
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Berberine
  • stachyose
  • Glucose