Research Paper Volume 13, Issue 16 pp 20016—20028

Oral administration of berberine represses macrophage activation-associated benign prostatic hyperplasia: a pivotal involvement of the NF-κB

Bo-Ram Jin1, , Hyo-Jin An1, ,

  • 1 Department of Pharmacology, College of Korean Medicine, Sangji University, Wonju-si, Gangwon-do 26339, Republic of Korea

Received: May 21, 2021       Accepted: July 13, 2021       Published: August 19, 2021
How to Cite

Copyright: © 2021 Jin and An. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is one of the most common chronic diseases in men over the age of 50. Clinical studies have suggested that chronic inflammation is associated with BPH pathoprogression. Berberine (BB) is a natural compound found in Berberis vulgaris, Coptis chinensis and Phellodendron amurense. Although several studies have documented that BB may be effective for inflammation, the effects of the oral administration of BB on BPH are not fully understood. The effects of BB on chronic prostatic inflammation were evaluated in a testosterone-induced BPH animal model. Orally administered BB alleviated the pathological alterations induced by BPH and significantly suppressed the expression of inflammatory markers while enhancing the expression of antioxidant factors. Furthermore, BB regulated the activation of macrophages via NF-κB signaling pathway inhibition in the BPH rat model. The effects and underlying signaling pathway of BB in RWPE-1 cells exposed to macrophage conditioned medium (CM) were also demonstrated in vitro. While CM stimulation induced prostatic cell proliferation and upregulated the expression of inflammatory factors, BB exerted anti-proliferation and anti-inflammatory effects in RWPE-1 cells. These findings propose that BB suppresses androgen-dependent BPH development by targeting NF-κB-mediated pro-inflammatory signaling.


AR: androgen receptor; BB: Berberine; BPH: benign prostatic hyperplasia; CM: conditioned medium; DHT: dihydrotestosterone; H&E: hematoxylin and eosin; qRT-PCR: quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction; ROS: reactive oxygen species; TETP: thickness of the epithelium in the prostate tissue; 5ARI: 5α-reductase inhibitor.