Antisecretory effects of berberine in rat ileum

Y. H. Tai, J. F. Feser, W. G. Marnane, J. F. Desjeux


The in vitro antisecretory effects of the alkaloid berberine (1.0 mM) on intestinal ion secretion and mucosal adenylate cyclase and Na-K-ATPase activities were studied in the rat ileum. Mucosal berberine did not alter the individual basal net ion fluxes and basal adenylate cyclase activity but decreased short-circuit current (Isc) and increased the net absorption of chloride plus bicarbonate. In the cholera toxin-treated tissue, mucosal berberine stimulated absorption of Na and Cl and inhibited the increased adenylate cyclase activity but did not change the specific Na-K-ATPase activity, whereas serosal berberine stimulated Na secretion and decreased Isc. Mucosal berberine also decreased Isc, increased Cl permeability, and reversed the ion secretion induced by dibutyryl cyclic AMP, the heat-stable enterotoxin of Escherichia coli, and methylprednisolone administration. The antisecretory effects of mucosal berberine may be explained by stimulation of a Na-Cl-coupled absorptive transport process. The mechanism of action of serosal berberine remains to be elucidated. However, it is clear that mucosal berberine affects intestinal ion transport by mechanisms different from stimulation of the Na pump and probably at a step distal to the production or degradation of cyclic AMP or cyclic GMP.