Role of berberine in ameliorating Schistosoma mansoni-induced hepatic injury in mice
BACKGROUND: Schistosomiasis is caused by helminth parasites of the genus Schistosoma. Berberine chloride (BER), an isoquinoline alkaloid, has been used in vivo for its antiparasitic, antioxidant and hepatoprotective properties. In this study, the protective effect of BER and praziquantel has been compared for the extent of schistosomiasis-induced oxidative stress in hepatic tissue of mice. RESULTS: S. mansoni was able to induce inflammation and injury to the liver, evidenced (i) by an increase in inflammatory cellular infiltrations, dilated sinusoids and vacuolated hepatocytes, (ii) by decreased levels of alanine and aspartate aminotransferases and increased levels of alkaline phosphatase, γ-glutamyl transferase in the liver homogenate, (iii) by increased production of nitric oxide and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances, and (iv) by lowered glutathione levels and decreased activities of catalase and superoxide dismutase, respectively. All these infection-induced parameters were significantly altered during BER treatment. In particular, berberine counteracted the S. mansoni-induced loss of glutathione and the activities of catalase and superoxide dismutase. CONCLUSION: Based on these results, it is concluded that berberine could ameliorate pre-existing liver damage and oxidative stress conditions due to schistosomiasis.