Regulation of hepatic cholesterol biosynthesis by berberine during hyperhomocysteinemia.
Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2010 Dec 22. Epub 2010 Dec 22. PMID: 21178122
1St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre.
Hyperhomocysteinemia, an elevation of blood homocysteine levels, is a metabolic disorder associated with dysfunction of multiple organs. We previously demonstrated that hyperhomocysteinemia stimulated hepatic 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase leading to hepatic lipid accumulation and liver injury. The liver plays an important role in cholesterol biosynthesis and overall homeostasis. The HMG-CoA reductase catalyzes the rate-limiting step in cholesterol biosynthesis. Hepatic HMG-CoA reductase is a major target for lowering cholesterol levels in patients with hypercholesterolemia. The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of berberine, a plant-derived alkaloid, on hepatic cholesterol biosynthesis in hyperhomocysteinemic rats and to identify the underlying mechanism. Hyperhomocysteinemia was induced in Sprague-Dawley rats by feeding a high-methionine diet for 4 weeks. HMG-CoA reductase activity was markedly elevated in the liver of hyperhomocysteinemic rats, which was accompanied by hepatic lipid accumulation. Activation of HMG-CoA reductase was due to an increase in its gene expression and a reduction in its phophorylation (an inactive form of the enzyme). Treatment of hyperhomocysteinemic rats with berberine for 5 days inhibited HMG-CoA reductase activity and reduced hepatic cholesterol content. Such an inhibitory effect was mediated by increased phosphorylation of HMG-CoA reductase. Berberine treatment also improved liver function. These results suggest that berberine regulates hepatic cholesterol biosynthesis via increased phosphorylation of HMG-CoA reductase. Berberine may be therapeutically useful for the management of cholesterol homeostasis.