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nightsurfer on 2009-12-01Mitochondrially targeted effects of berberine [Natural Yellow 18, 5,6-dihydro-9,10-dimethoxybenzo(g)-1,3-benzodioxolo(5,6-a) quinolizinium] on K1735-M2 mouse melanoma cells: comparison with direct effects on isolated mitochondrial fractions.
Pereira GC, Branco AF, Matos JA, Pereira SL, Parke D, Perkins EL, Serafim TL, Sardão VA, Santos MS, Moreno AJ, Holy J, Oliveira PJ.
J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2007 Nov;323(2):636-49. Epub 2007 Aug 17.
The present work shows that berberine is accumulated by mitochondria of a mouse melanoma cell line, leading to mitochondrial fragmentation and dysfunction, accompanied by decreased cellular energy charge. When the effect was compared with the results obtained on isolated mitochondrial fractions, it is observed that regardless of the system used, berberine is toxic for mitochondria. One major limitation of the present study (as in many others) is the lack of knowledge of the real concentration of berberine that reaches mitochondria in intact cells. Although we do not possess data regarding this aspect, it is wise to speculate that mitochondrial berberine concentrations will be much higher than in the bulk cytosol due to electrophoretic accumulation. We believe that the range of berberine concentrations accumulated by mitochondria in intact cells is within the range of concentrations used on isolated mitochondrial fractions in the present study. The present work not only provides insights on the mechanism by which berberine interferes with tumor cell proliferation, demonstrating previously unknown effects on mitochondrial physiology, but also raises a note of caution on the use of berberine as a nontoxic “natural” over-the-counter medication.