Berberine – a natural product of plants such as Berberis – activates Wnt signalling to repair IBS-damaged intestinal tissue
Persistent diarrhoea. Abdominal pain. Fatigue. These are all the unpleasant symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The current drug treatment only has a 40% success rate, which is why clinical trials are underway to test new drugs, including the plant product berberine. Berberine has shown promising results in treating IBD. Researchers now investigate how it works in a mouse model of IBD. The large intestines of healthy and IBD mice, with or without berberine treatment, were imaged using fluorescence microscopy (pictured). This revealed that berberine reduced the activity of immune cells that promote inflammation and increased intestinal stem cell numbers (red) in healthy (top, right) and IBD mice (bottom, right) when compared with untreated mice (left). In IBD mice, this encouraged the repair of damaged intestinal tissue. Further investigation revealed that berberine works by activating a signalling pathway called Wnt, as blocking this pathway reduced its therapeutic effects.
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