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Berberine for bone regeneration: therapeutic potential and molecular mechanisms

Yuhan Zhang 1Jinlong Ma 2Weifen Zhang 3

J Ethnopharmacol. 2021 May 28;114249. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2021.114249. 


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Berberine is a quaternary ammonium isoquinoline alkaloid, mainly extracted from plants berberaceae, papaveraceae, ranunculaceae and rutaceae such as coptis chinensis Franch, Phellodendron chinense, and berberis pruinosa. The plants are extensively used in traditional medicine for treating infection, diabetes, arrhythmia, tumor, osteoporosis, et al. Pharmacological studies showed berberine has effects of anti-inflammation, anti-tumor, lower blood lipid, lower blood glucose, anti-osteoporosis, anti-osteoarthritis, et al. Aim of the study: This review aims to summarize the application of natural herbs that contain berberine, the further use and development of berberine, the effects as well as mechanism of berberine on osteoblasts and osteoclasts, the recent advances of in vivo studies, in order to provide a scientific basis for its traditional uses and to prospect of the potential applications of berberine in clinics.

Method: The research was achieved by retrieving from the online electronic database, including PubMed, Web of Science, Google Scholar and China national knowledge infrastructure (CNKI). Patents, doctoral dissertations and master dissertations are also searched.

Results: Berberine has a long history of medicinal use to treat various diseases including bone disease in China. Recent studies have defined its function in promoting bone regeneration and great potential in developing new drugs. But the systemic mechanism of berberine on bone regeneration still needs more research to clarify.

Conclusion: This review has systematically summarized the application, pharmacological effects, mechanism as well as in vivo studies of berberine and herbs which contain berberine. Berberine has a definite effect in promoting the proliferation and differentiation of osteoblasts as well as inhibiting the production of osteoclasts to promote bone regeneration. However, the present studies about the system mechanisms and pharmacological activity of berberine were incomplete. Applying berberine for new drug development remains an exciting and promising alternative to bone regeneration engineering, with broad potential for therapeutic and clinical practice.