Berberine and Quercetin in the treatment of intestinal inflammation

Berberine and Quercetin are two molecules of natural origins characterized by many pharmacological properties, which make them suitable for many medical treatments. One of the most known and well-documented activity is the anti-inflammatory activity, which is exerted specifically at intestinal level, when the molecules are tested in induced-colitis models. These animals models allow to reproduce in laboratory the intestinal inflammatory conditions, in which category we include all the disease characterized by an inflammatory process of the gut mucosa, such as diverticular disease, infectious colitis, C. difficile colitis, drug-induced colitis, microscopic colitis, and the most severe inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Both berberine and quercetin counteract the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines in colons of DSS-induced colitis mice; DSS is a chemical compound able to mimic the inflammatory condition typical of the above-mentioned diseases.

The graphs shows the levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α in colons of healthy mice (CON), DSS-induced colitis mice (DSS) and DSS-induced colitis mice treated with berberine 40 mg/Kg (DSS+BBR): we can observe that the berberine treatment decreases significantly the levels, which increases in consequence of the induced inflammation (Liu et al., 2018).

Similarly, quercetin significantly reduces the levels of inflammatory markers and pro-inflammatory cytokines in DSS-induced colitis models, as shown in the following graph. Here are considered the levels of MPO (myeloperoxidase), CRP (C-reactive protein) and pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-α, IFN-g, IL-6 and IL-10 in colons of healthy mice (control), mice with DSS-induced colitis (DSS) and mice with DSS-induced colitis treated with quercetin for 14 days at 3 different concentrations 10 mg/Kg (DSS+QT-NPsI), 15 mg/Kg (DSS+QT-NPsII) and 20 mg/Kg (DSS+QT-NPsIII) (Khater et al., 2022).

In light of these considerations, berberine and quercetin are interesting natural molecules to treat inflammation in all of the conditions characterized by an important gut inflammation.


Khater, S. I., Lotfy, M. M., Alandiyjany, M. N., Alqahtani, L. S., Zaglool, A. W., Althobaiti, F., … & Ibrahim, D. (2022). Therapeutic potential of quercetin loaded nanoparticles: Novel insights in alleviating colitis in an experimental DSS induced colitis model. Biomedicines, 10(7), 1654.

Liu, Y., Liu, X., Hua, W., Wei, Q., Fang, X., Zhao, Z., … & Zhu, Y. (2018). Berberine inhibits macrophage M1 polarization via AKT1/SOCS1/NF-κB signaling pathway to protect against DSS-induced colitis. International immunopharmacology, 57, 121-131.

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