Berberine for cancer STEM cells

Dr. Weeks’ Comment:  Metformin has been shown to kill cancer STEM cells and berberine does it too! And is safer. And is cheaper.

Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Jun 7;17(6). pii: E893. doi: 10.3390/ijms17060893.

Cancer Stem Cells: The Potential Targets of Chinese Medicines and Their Active Compounds.

Abstract

The pivotal role of cancer stem cells (CSCs) in the initiation and progression of malignancies has been rigorously validated, and the specific methods for identifying and isolating the CSCs from the parental cancer population have also been rapidly developed in recent years. This review aims to provide an overview of recent research progress of Chinese medicines (CMs) and their active compounds in inhibiting tumor progression by targeting CSCs. A great deal of CMs and their active compounds, such as Antrodia camphorate, berberine, resveratrol, and curcumin have been shown to regress CSCs, in terms of reversing drug resistance, inducing cell death and inhibiting cell proliferation as well as metastasis. Furthermore, one of the active compounds in coptis, berbamine may inhibit tumor progression by modulating microRNAs to regulate CSCs. The underlying molecular mechanisms and related signaling pathways involved in these processes were also discussed and concluded in this paper. Overall, the use of CMs and their active compounds may be a promising therapeutic strategy to eradicate cancer by targeting CSCs. However, further studies are needed to clarify the potential of clinical application of CMs and their active compounds as complementary and alternative therapy in this field.

Curr Drug Targets. 2011 Jun;12(6):850-9.

Berberine as a promising safe anti-cancer agent – is there a role for mitochondria?

Abstract

Metabolic regulation is largely dependent on mitochondria, which play an important role in energy homeostasis. Imbalance between energy intake and expenditure leads to mitochondrial dysfunction, characterized by a reduced ratio of energy production (ATP production) to respiration. 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.

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Molecules. 2014 Aug 15;19(8):12349-67. doi: 10.3390/molecules190812349.

Berberine, an epiphany against cancer.

Abstract

Alkaloids are used in traditional medicine for the treatment of many diseases. These compounds are synthesized in plants as secondary metabolites and have multiple effects on cellular metabolism. Among plant derivatives with biological properties, the isoquinoline quaternary alkaloid berberine possesses a broad range of therapeutic uses against several diseases. In recent years, berberine has been reported to inhibit cell proliferation and to be cytotoxic towards cancer cells. Based on this evidence, many derivatives have been synthesized to improve berberine efficiency and selectivity; the results so far obtained on human cancer cell lines support the idea that they could be promising agents for cancer treatment. The main properties of berberine and derivatives will be illustrated.

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Biochem Pharmacol. 2012 Nov 15;84(10):1260-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2012.07.018. Epub 2012 Jul 25.

Berberine: new perspectives for old remedies.

Abstract

Chemical compounds derived from plants have been used since the origin of human beings to counteract a number of diseases. Among them, the natural isoquinoline alkaloid berberine has been employed in Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine for hundreds of years with a wide range of pharmacological and biochemical effects. More recently, a growing body of reports supports the evidence that berberine has anticancer effects, being able to block the proliferation of and to kill cancer cells. This review addresses the properties and therapeutic use of berberine and focuses on the recent advances as promising anticancer drug lead.

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