Efficacy and safety of berberine in preventing recurrence of colorectal adenomas: A systematic review and meta-analysis

J Ethnopharmacol. 2022 Jan 10:282:114617. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2021.114617. Epub 2021 Sep 10.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Berberine(BBR) is a kind of isoquinoline alkaloids extracted from the rhizomes of Coptis chinensis Franch., which was the main active ingredient. Accumulating evidence has shown that it has potential pharmacological effects in preventing the recurrence of colorectal adenomas.

Aim of the study: The roles of BBR in the overall recurrence of colorectal adenoma have still not been assessed because of the limitations of the available data and the restriction of a single study. Therefore, we evaluated the effectiveness and safety of BBR in preventing the recurrence of colorectal adenomas through a systematic review and meta-analysis of available data.

Materials and methods: We searched four English databases (PubMed (MEDLINE), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), Embase and Web of Science) and four Chinese language databases (Chinese Biomedicine (CBM), China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), Chinese Scientific Journals Database (VIP) and the WanFang Database) from their inception through October 2020. Meta-analysis was performed with RevMan5.3 software after data extraction and the quality of studies assessment.

Results: Three randomized controlled clinical trials were included with 1076 patients. Our results illustrated that 1-year and 2-year supplementation with BBR was associated with lower recurrence rate of colorectal adenoma (RR 0.69, 95% CI 0.57 to 0.84, p=0.0001; RR 0.75, 95% CI 0.64 to 0.88, p=0.0004). The relative risk of oral BBR for 1 year and 2 years is not comparable, for 2-year efficacy outcomes were assessed in all participants who had at least one colonoscopy with pathological evaluation after baseline (lots of participants completed the first colonoscopy but discontinued during the second follow-up interval.). Moreover, the results also suggest that BBR had more adverse events than placebo (RR 2.91, 95% CI 1.24 to 6.85, p=0.01). Through the full-text reading, no serious adverse events were observed, and constipation was the most common event which disappears once the drug is discontinued.

Conclusion: Generally, the present study indicated that BBR has a comparable therapeutic effect on the prevention of colorectal adenomas recurrence. Adverse reactions are worthy of attention which requires additional studies to obtain a precise conclusion.

Prospero registration no: CRD42020209135.

Keywords: Berberine; Chemoprevention; Colorectal adenomas; Meta-analysis; Randomized controlled trials; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / drug therapy
  • Adenoma / prevention & control*
  • Berberine / adverse effects
  • Berberine / pharmacology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Coptis chinensis / chemistry*
  • Humans


  • Berberine