How Berberine helps fight TNBC

How Berberine helps fight TNBC

Berberine shows multiple anti-cancer effects both in vitro and in vivo against hard-to-treat Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) not just by cutting blood glucose or being cytoxic or causing apoptosis but by affecting Cyclin A and activating caspase to block tumour growth.


Berberine (BBR) is known to play an anti-proliferation role in a number of cancers as evidenced by research in vitro and in vivo. One study took eight different cell likes of TNBC and showed that Berberine was effective in each, causing a decrease in Cyclin A and CDK1 or CDK4 expression. It did not just simply cause apoptosis, autophagy or necrosis, rather it inhibited proteins important in regulating cell cycle function (1)


This followed a 2017 study of Berberine with TNBC in vitro and in vivo. In this study, researchers found Berberine activated caspase-9/cytochrome C, and this blocked tumour growth in mouse models with TNBC and caused cell death (apoptosis) (2). This study followed work with berberine and cisplatin against breast cancer. A similar caspase activation improved drug results, but the combination also resulted in DNA breaks in the cancer cells (3).


Finally, a 2020 study (4) from the Institut Curie in Paris and other centres, showed that ‘Berberine impairs the survival of TNBC cells’. Interestingly, while Berberine was cytoxic to a vast array of different TNBC cell lines, it had no effect on healthy cells.

TNBC is recognised to be highly dependent on glucose/glucosamine and lipids for metabolism. Berberine is well known to cut blood glucose and lipid levels, performing as well as Metformin in patients with diabetes (5).

Metformin is also known to have effects against TNBC. In one study, it was claimed to be ‘especially toxic’ to TNBC because it targeted glucose-burning enzymes in the TNBC cells (6).


Go to: Berberine; many effects against cancer


  1. J Cell Biochem; 2019, Aug 120(8), 13531-13544; Yen Shu-Lin et al

  2. Biomed pharmacother; 2017, Nov 95.Yuwan Zhao et al

  3. Oncol Rep 2016, July 36(1); Yuwan Zhao et al.

  4. Molecules; 2020 Feb 25(3); Lamyae El Khalki et al

  5. Metabolism, 2008 May 57(5) Jun Yin et al. Efficacy of Berberine in patients with Type 2 Diabetes

  6. Metformin and TNBC




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