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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 6983956, 11 pages
Research Article

Berberine Protects Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells against LPS-Induced Apoptosis by Blocking JNK-Mediated Signaling

1Department of Clinical Medicine, Zhejiang University City College School of Medicine, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310015, China
2Department of Endocrinology, Zhejiang Provincial People’s Hospital, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310014, China

Received 10 March 2016; Accepted 23 May 2016

Academic Editor: Caio P. Fernandes

Copyright © 2016 Junping Guo 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.


Endothelial dysfunction is a critical factor during the initiation of atherosclerosis. Berberine has a beneficial effect on endothelial function; however, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. In this study, we investigated the effects of berberine on lipopolysaccharide- (LPS-) induced apoptosis in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) and the molecular mechanisms mediating the effect. The effects of berberine on LPS-induced cell apoptosis and viability were measured with 5-ethynyl-2′-deoxyuridine staining, flow cytometry, and Cell Counting Kit-8 assays. The expression and/or activation of proapoptotic and antiapoptotic proteins or signaling pathways, including caspase-3, poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase, myeloid cell leukemia-1 (MCL-1), p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase, C-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and extracellular signal-regulated kinase, were determined with western blotting. The malondialdehyde levels, superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, and production of proinflammatory cytokines were measured with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. The results demonstrated that berberine pretreatment protected HUVECs from LPS-induced apoptosis, attenuated LPS-induced injury, inhibited LPS-induced JNK phosphorylation, increased MCL-1 expression and SOD activity, and decreased proinflammatory cytokine production. The effects of berberine on LPS-treated HUVECs were prevented by SP600125, a JNK-specific inhibitor. Thus, berberine might be a potential candidate in the treatment of endothelial cell injury-related vascular diseases.