Neuroprotective effects of berberine in animal models of Alzheimer's disease: A systematic review of pre-clinical studies

Ning Ning Yuan, Cui Zan Cai, Ming Yue Wu, Huan Xing Su, Min Li, Jia Hong Lu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)



Berberine is an isoquinoline alkaloid extracted from various Berberis species which is widely used in East Asia for a wide range of symptoms. Recently, neuroprotective effects of berberine in Alzheimer's disease (AD) animal models are being extensively reported. So far, no clinical trial has been carried out on the neuroprotective effects of berberine. However, a review of the experimental data is needed before choosing berberine as a candidate drug for clinical experiments. We conducted a systematic review on AD rodent models to analyze the drug effects with minimal selection bias. 


Five online literature databases were searched to find publications reporting studies of the effect of berberine treatment on animal models of AD. Up to March 2018, 15 papers were identified to describe the efficacy of berberine. 


The included 15 articles met our inclusion criteria with different quality ranging from 3 to 5. We analyzed data extracted from full texts with regard to pharmacological effects and potential anti-Alzheimer's properties. Our analysis revealed that in multiple memory defects animal models, berberine showed significant memory-improving activities with multiple mechanisms, such as anti-inflammation, anti-oxidative stress, cholinesterase (ChE) inhibition and anti-amyloid effects. 


AD is likely to be a complex disease driven by multiple factors. Yet, many therapeutic strategies based on lowering β-amyloid have failed in clinical trials. This suggest that the threapy should not base on a single cause of Alzheimer's disease but rather a number of different pathways that lead to the disease. Overall we think that berberine can be a promising multipotent agent to combat Alzheimer's disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109
JournalBMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies
Early online date23 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine

User-Defined Keywords

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Animal models
  • Berberine
  • Dementia
  • Neuroprotection


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