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Junling Han, Huiling Lin, Weiping Huang
Med Sci Monit 2011; 17(7): RA164-167
Berberine, one of the main constituents of a Chinese traditional herb used to treat bacterial diarrhea, has an effect of lowering glucose, which has been recently confirmed by many studies. However, the mechanism of berberine’s antidiabetic effect has not yet been well explained. Recent evidence suggests that the gut microbiota composition is associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes, which are closely associated with a low-grade inflammatory state. The protective effect against diabetes of gut microbiota modulation with probiotics or antibiotics has been confirmed in recent observations. Berberine has significant antimicrobial activity against several microbes through inhibiting the assembly function of FtsZ and halting the bacteria cell division. Because berberine acts topically in the gastrointestinal tract and it is poorly absorbed, berberine might modulate gut microbiota without systemic anti-infective activity. Our hypothesis is that gut microbiota modulation may be one mechanism of the antidiabetic effect of berberine. Our hypothesis may provide a novel explanation for berberine’s therapeutic effect in patients with diabetes mellitus.