Immune Activity

Intragastric administration of the crude extract of goldenseal for 6 weeks increased the production of IgM in vivo (Rehman et al 1999). Berberine has also been found to induce IL-12 p40, a large subunit of IL-12, through the activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase in mouse macrophages (Kang et al 2002). lnterleukin-12 is crucial for the development of the Th1 immune response and thus may also have a therapeutic effect in reducing Th2 allergic disorders. A follow-up study demonstrated that pretreatment with berberine induced IL-12 production in stimulated macrophages and dendritic cells (Kim et al 2003). Macrophages pretreated with berberine had an increased ability to induce IFN-gamma and a reduced ability to induce IL-4 in antigen-primed CD4+ T-cells. Increased levels of IL-12 appear to deviate CD4+ T-cells from theTh2 to theThl pathway. This inhibition of type 2 cytokine responses indicate that berberine may be an effective anti-allergic compound.

The immunosuppressive effects of berberine were investigated in an induced autoimmune model in vivo (Marinova et al 2000). Berberine was administered daily (10 mg/kg) for 3 days before intravenous induction of tubulo-interstitial nephritis (TIN).

Significantly less damage and an increase in renal function was demonstrated in the animals pretreated with berberine as compared to controls after 2 months. Goldenseal 634

Berberine decreased CD3, CD4 and CD8 lymphocytes in comparison with non-treated

animals. These results suggest that berberine may exert an immunosuppressive effect in a TIN model. Clinical trials in human kidney autoimmune diseases are warranted.

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