Berberine, an isoquinoline alkaloid component of Coptidis Rhizoma (goldenthread) extract, has been reported to have therapeutic potential for central nervous system disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, cerebral ischemia, and schizophrenia. We have previously shown that berberine promotes the survival and differentiation of hippocampal precursor cells. In a memory-impaired rat model induced by ibotenic acid injection, the survival of pyramidal and granular cells was greatly increased in the hippocampus by berberine administration. In the present study, we investigated the effects of berberine on neurite outgrowth in the SH-SY5Y neuronal cell line and axonal regeneration in the rat peripheral nervous system (PNS). Berberine enhanced neurite extension in differentiating SH-SY5Y cells at concentrations of 0.25–3μg/mL. In an injury model of the rat sciatic nerve, we examined the neuroregenerative effects of berberine on axonal remyelination by using immunohistochemical analysis. Four weeks after berberine administration (20mg/kg i.p. once per day for 1 week), the thickness of remyelinated axons improved approximately 1.4-fold in the distal stump of the injury site. Taken together, these results indicate that berberine promotes neurite extension and axonal regeneration in injured nerves of the PNS.

Via Jonathan Middleton