Preventive use of berberine in inhibition of lead-induced renal
injury in rats
Received: 9 July 2017 /Accepted: 6 November 2017 / Published online: 4 December 2017
Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017
Abstract The kidney is one of the main organs affected by
lead toxicity. We investigated the effects of berberine on lead-
induced nephrotoxicity in adult male Wistar rats. Animals
received an aqueous solution of lead acetate (500 mg Pb/L
in the drinking water) and/or berberine (50 mg/kg, i.g.)for
0.001) and total oxidant status (P <0.01), and a decrease in
reduced glutathione (P < 0.001), catalase (P <0.01),superox-
ide dismutase (P < 0.001), and total antioxidant capacity
(P < 0.05). Berberine prevented the prooxidant and antioxi-
dant imbalance induced by lead (P < 0.001). Berberine
corrected the increased relative kidney weight (P < 0.05) and
biomarkers of renal function (creatinine (P <0.001), urea
(P <0.05),uricacid(P < 0.001), albumin (P < 0.01), and total
protein (P < 0.05)) in lead group. It also attenuated lead-
induced abnormal renal structure. The results confirmed
renoprotective effects of berberine in an animal model of
lead-induced nephrotoxicity by molecular, biochemical, and
histopathological analysis through inhibiting lipid peroxida-
tion and enhancing antioxidant defense system mechanisms.
Therefore, berberine makes a good candidate to protect
against the deleterious effect of chronic lead intoxication.
Lead is one of the most abundant toxic metals and is detected
in all parts of the environment and in biological systems. Lead
exposure is a widespread problem in many countries (Wang
et al. 2012). Sources of human exposure to this metal include
many foods, drinking water, and dust. Lead exposure or lead
poisoning is known to cause a large spectrum of physiologi-
cal, biochemical, and behavioral disorders in humans and ex-
perimental animals (Abdou and Hassan 2014; Ibrahim et al.
2011; Xia et al. 2010), including nephrotoxicity (Ibrahim et al.
2011; Jia et al. 2012).
Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain lead-
induced toxicity (Wang et al. 2012; Mohamed et al. 2016).
Although the precise mechanism of renal toxicity caused by
lead is not clear, there is evidence that lead can cause genera-
tion of reactive oxygen metabolites and inhibit the activity of
antioxidant enzymes in renal tissue (Abdel Moneim et al.
2011; El-Nekeety et al. 2009). It has been suggested that an-
tioxidants may play an important role in abating some hazards
of lead (Wang et al. 2012;Caylaketal.2008; Flora et al. 2003;
Liu et al. 2012).
Berberine is an isoquinoline alkaloid present in a number of
important medicinal plant species such as Berberis aristata
and Berberis aquifolium. Berberine exhibits multiple pharma-
cological properties, including anti-hypertensive (Wang and
Ding 2015), anti-inflammatory (Zou et al. 2017), anti-
diabetic (Lee et al. 2006), and anti-hyperlipidemic activities
(Chang et al. 2016). Berberine has been shown to be effective
in decreasing prooxidant status in oxidative stress-induced
pathologies such as ischemia reperfusion (Visnagri et al.
2015) and renal damage. Berberine has renoprotective effects
in experimental renal injury caused by cisplatin (Domitrović
et al. 2013), mercury (Othman et al. 2014), and diabetes (Liu
et al. 2008).
Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues
* Parisa Hasanein
Department of Biology, School of Basic Sciences, University of
Zabol, Zabol 9861335856, Iran
Department of Biology, School of Basic Sciences, Bu-Ali Sina
University, Hamedan, Iran
Environ Sci Pollut Res (2018) 25:4896–4903