Abstract Title:

Berberine ameliorates iron levels and ferroptosis in the brain of 3 × Tg-AD mice.

Abstract Source:

Phytomedicine. 2023 Sep ;118:154962. Epub 2023 Jul 17. PMID: 37506403

Abstract Author(s):

Xinlu Li, Jianfeng Chen, Wennuo Feng, Chao Wang, Minyu Chen, Yifan Li, Jinghong Chen, Xinwei Liu, Qiong Liu, Jing Tian

Article Affiliation:

Xinlu Li


BACKGROUND: Berberine (BBR) is a natural alkaloid extracted from the herb Coptis chinensis. This compound has the ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and exhibit neuroprotective value in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD). AD is a neurodegenerative disease characterized byβ-amyloid (Aβ) deposition, hyperphosphorylated tau and other characters. Iron accumulation and ferroptosis were also detected in AD brain, which can result in neuronal damage. However, it is still unclear whether BBR can suppress ferroptosis in AD and alleviate its underlying pathology.

PURPOSE: This study investigated whether BBR may affect ferroptosis and related signaling pathways in triple transgenic AD (3 × Tg-AD) mice.

METHODS: Four-month-old 3 × Tg-AD mice received oral administration of BBR at a dose of 50 mg/kg for 7.5 months. Cognitive function and anxiety levels in mice were assessed using the morris water maze test, open field test, and novel object recognition test. Western blot, immunohistochemistry, and ICP-MS were employed to assess the pathology of AD, brain iron metabolism, and ferroptosis signaling pathways. Transmission electron microscopy was used to detect mitochondrial changes. The synergistic effects of BBR combined with Nrf2 were investigated using molecular docking programs and surface plasmon resonance technology. Co-inmunoprecipitation assay was used to examine the effect of BBR on the binding ability of Nrf2 and Keap1.

RESULTS: The results indicated that chronic treatment of BBR mitigated cognitive disorders in 3 × Tg-AD model mice. Reductions in Aβplaque, hyperphosphorylated tau protein, neuronal loss, and ferroptosis in the brains of 3 × Tg-AD mice suggested that BBR could alleviate brain injury. In addition, BBR treatment attenuated ferroptosis, as evidenced by decreased levels of iron, MDA, and ROS, while enhancing SOD, GSH, GPX4, and SLC7A11. Consistent with the in vivo assay, BBR inhibited RSL3-induced ferroptosis in N2a-sw cells. BBR increased the expression levels of GPX4, FPN1 and SLC7A11 by regulating Nrf2 transcription levels, thereby inhibiting ferroptosis. Molecular docking programs and surface plasmon resonance technology demonstrated the direct combination of BBR with Nrf2. Co-inmunoprecipitation analysis showed that BBR inhibited the interaction between Keap1 and Nrf2.

CONCLUSION: For the first time, these results showed that BBR could inhibit iron levels and ferroptosis in the brains of 3 × Tg-AD model mice and partially protect against RSL3-induced ferroptosis via the activation of Nrf2 signaling.

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