Berberine inhibits cell growth and mediates caspase-independent cell death in human pancreatic cancer cells.
Planta Med. 2010 May 7. Epub 2010 May 7. PMID: 20455200
Department of Functional Genome Analysis, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive human malignancies with an increasing incidence worldwide. In addition to the poor survival rates, combinations using gemcitabine as a backbone have failed to show any benefit beyond monotherapy. These facts underscore an urgent need for novel therapeutic options and motivated us to study the effect of berberine on pancreatic cancer cells. Here, we undertook an mRNA-based gene expression profiling study in order to get deeper insight into the molecular targets mediating the growth inhibitory effects of berberine on pancreatic cancer cells compared to normal ones. Twenty-four hours after treatment, berberine showed preferential selectivity toward pancreatic cancer cells compared to normal ones. Moreover, expression profiling and Ingenuity pathway analysis results showed that the cytotoxicity of berberine was accompanied with an activation of BRCA1-mediated DNA damage response, G1/S and G2/M cell cycle checkpoint regulation, and P53 signalling pathways. The activation of these signalling pathways might be explained by the fact that berberine intercalates DNA and induces DNA strand break through inhibition of topoisomerases and induction of DNA lesions.