Berberine inhibits intestinal polyps growth in Apc (min/+) mice via regulation of macrophage polarization.
Antitumor effect of berberine has been reported in a wide spectrum of cancer, however, the mechanisms of which are not fully understood. The aim of this study was to investigate the hypothesis that berberine suppresses tumorigenesis in the familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) by regulating the macrophage polarization in Apc (min/+) mouse model. Berberine was given to Apc (min/+) mice for 12 weeks. Primary macrophages were isolated; after berberine treatment, the change in signaling cascade was determined. The total number and size of polyps were reduced remarkably in berberine group, compared with control group. A significant decrease in protein levels of F4/80, mannose receptor (MR), and COX-2 in stroma of intestinal polyps and an increase in the level of iNOS were observed after berberine treatment. The mRNA level of MR and Arg-1 in berberine group was significantly lower than those in IL-10 or IL-4 group, while no significant difference in mRNA levels of iNOS and CXCL10 was observed. The migration and invasiveness assays in vitro showed that berberine could reduce the capability of migration and invasiveness. These findings suggest that berberine attenuates intestinal tumorigenesis by inhibiting the migration and invasion of colorectal tumor cells via regulation of macrophage polarization.