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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2015, Article ID 796306, 13 pages
Research Article

Effects of Berberine on Cell Cycle, DNA, Reactive Oxygen Species, and Apoptosis in L929 Murine Fibroblast Cells

College of Animal Science and Technology, Anhui Agricultural University, 130 Changjiang West Road, Hefei, Anhui 230036, China

Received 7 April 2015; Revised 31 July 2015; Accepted 24 August 2015

Academic Editor: Ciara Hughes

Copyright © 2015 Manman Gu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Berberine, an isoquinoline alkaloid isolated from several traditional Chinese herbal medicines (TCM), exhibits a strong antimicrobial activity in the treatment of diarrhea. However, it causes human as well as animal toxicity from heavy dosage. The present study was conducted to investigate the cytotoxicity of berberine and its possible trigger mechanisms resulting in cell cycle arrest, DNA damage, ROS (reactive oxygen species) level, mitochondrial membrane potential change, and cell apoptosis in L929 murine fibroblast (L929) cells. The cells were cultured in vitro and treated with different concentrations of berberine for 24 h. The results showed that cell viability was significantly decreased in a subjected dose-dependent state; berberine concentrations were higher than 0.05 mg/mL. Berberine at a concentration above 0.1 mg/mL altered the morphology of L929 cells. Cells at G2/M phase were clear that the level of ROS and cell apoptosis rates increased in 0.1 mg/mL group. Each DNA damage indicator score (DIS) increased in groups where concentration of berberine was above 0.025 mg/mL. The mitochondrial membrane potential counteractive balance mechanics were significantly altered when concentrations of berberine were above 0.005 mg/mL. In all, the present study suggested that berberine at high dosage exhibited cytotoxicity on L929 which was related to resultant: cell cycle arrest; DNA damage; accumulation of intracellular ROS; reduction of mitochondrial membrane potential; and cell apoptosis.