Berberine inhibits macrophage M1 polarization via AKT1/SOCS1/NF-κB signaling pathway to protect against DSS-induced colitis

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Abstract

Berberine has been reported to have protective effects in colitis treatment. However, the detailed mechanisms remain unclear. Herein, we demonstrated that berberine could protect against dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis in mice by regulating macrophage polarization. In the colitis mouse model, berberine ameliorated DSS-induced colon shortening and colon tissue injury. Moreover, berberine-treated mice showed significant reduction in the disease activity index (DAI), pro-inflammatory cytokines expression and macrophages infiltration compared with the DSS-treated mice. Notably, berberine significantly reduced the percentage of M1 macrophages. In vitro analysis also confirmed the inhibitory effects of berberine on macrophages M1 polarization in RAW267.4 cells. Further investigation showed that berberine promoted AKT1 expression in mRNA and protein level. Silence of AKT1 abolished the inhibitory effect of berberine on macrophages M1 polarization. The berberine-induced AKT1 expression promoted suppressers of cytokine signaling (SOCS1) activation, which inhibited nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) phosphorylation. In addition, we also found that berberine activated AKT1/SOCS1 signaling pathway but inhibited p65 phosphorylation in macrophages in vivo. Therefore, we concluded that berberine played a regulatory role in macrophages M1 polarization in DSS-induced colitis via AKT1/SOCS1/NF-κB signaling pathway. This unexpected property of berberine may provide a potential explanation for its protective effects in colitis treatment.

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