Current Drug Targets

Francis J. Castellino
Kleiderer-Pezold Professor of Biochemistry
Director, W.M. Keck Center for Transgene Research
Dean Emeritus, College of Science
230 Raclin-Carmichael Hall, University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556


Berberine as a Promising Safe Anti-Cancer Agent- Is there a Role for Mitochondria?

Author(s): Catia V. Diogo, Nuno G. Machado, Ines A. Barbosa, Teresa L. Serafim, Ana Burgeiro and Paulo J. Oliveira

Affiliation: Center for Neurosciences and Cell Biology, Department of Life Sciences, University of Coimbra, Portugal.


Metabolic regulation is largely dependent on mitochondria, which play an important role in energy homeostasis. Mitochondrial dysfunction results in an imbalanced energy supply to the cell, which may compromise its survival. Due to the role of mitochondrial factors/events in several apoptotic pathways, the possibility of targeting that organelle in the tumor cell, leading to its elimination is very attractive, although the safety issue is problematic. Berberine, a benzyl-tetra isoquinoline alkaloid extracted from plants of the Berberidaceae family, has been extensively used for many centuries, especially in the traditional Chinese and Native American medicine. Several evidences suggest that berberine possesses several therapeutic uses, including anti-tumoral activity. The present review supplies evidence that berberine is a safe anti-cancer agent, exerting several effects on mitochondria, including inhibition of mitochondrial Complex I and interaction with the adenine nucleotide translocator which can explain several of the described effects on tumor cells.

Keywords: Berberine, cancer, anti-cancer agents, mitochondria, safety, pharmacology, apotosis, cell cycle, ATP, Resveratrol

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Article Details

Page: [850 - 859]
Pages: 10
DOI: 10.2174/138945011795528930