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Cognitive decline is one of the most challenging issues for cancer survivors undergoing doxorubicin (DOX) based chemotherapy. Oxidative stress and inflammation primarily through tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) are considered the key contributors to DOX-induced chemobrain. Berberine (BBR) has attracted much interest because of its anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic actions. This study aimed to evaluate the potential neuroprotective effect of BBR in DOX-induced neurodegeneration and cognitive deficits. Chemobrain was induced by DOX i.p. injection at the dose of 2 mg/kg, once/week, for four consecutive weeks. Rats were treated with BBR (100 mg/kg, p.o.) for 5 days/week for four consecutive weeks. BBR significantly attenuated behavioral defects in DOX-induced cognitive impairment. Besides, BBR reversed histopathological abnormalities. Mechanistically, it reversed DOX-induced neuroinflammation by attenuating NF-κB gene and protein expression in addition to diminishing expression of pro-inflammatory mediators (TNF-α and IL-1β), as well as apoptotic related factors (Bax, Bcl2 and Bax/Bcl2 ratio). Additionally, BBR activated the anti-oxidative defense via upregulating the expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PGC-1α) and manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD). BBR improved synaptic plasticity through cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). These effects were related through the modulation of Sirtuin1 (SIRT1) expression. BBR is highlighted to induce neuroprotection against DOX-induced cognitive decline through modulating brain growth factors and imposing an anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic and anti-oxidative effects. Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.


Fatma H Shaker, Marwa O El-Derany, Sara A Wahdan, Ebtehal El-Demerdash, Hala O El-Mesallamy. Berberine ameliorates doxorubicin-induced cognitive impairment (chemobrain) in rats. Life sciences. 2021 Mar 15;269:119078

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PMID: 33460662

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