Endocrine Abstracts (2012) 29 P919

Effects of berberine on the clinical, metabolic and reproductive features of obese polycystic ovary syndrome women

F. Orio1,2, S. Palomba3, G. La Sala3, A. Falbo3, M. Orio4, A. Colao5, S. Savastano5, L. Vuolo5, G. Lombardi5, G. Colarieti2, A. Volpe4, V. Di Stasi4 & P. Putignano6


1University ‘Parthenope’ of Naples, Naples, Italy; 2Hospital University of Salerno, Salerno, Italy; 3‘Arcispedale S. Maria Nuova’ Reggio Emilia, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Reggio Emilia, Italy; 4University of Salerno, Salerno, Italy; 5University ‘Federico II’ of Naples, Naples, Italy; 6‘San Gerardo’ Hospital, Monza, Italy.


Objective: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a multifaceted disease characterized by metabolic and reproductive disorders associated with hyperandrogenism and insulin resistance. Berberine (BBR) is an isoquinoline derivative alkaloid extracted from chinese medicinal herbs that has been used as an insulin sensitizer.BBR could represent a potential therapeutic tool for PCOS.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of BBR on the clinical, metabolic and reproductive features of PCOS women compared to healthy control women.

Design and methods: Fifty PCOS obese women and fifty healthy obese women (control group) were enrolled in Salerno Hospital University outpatient of Endocrinology of Fertile Age and Monza ‘San Gerardo’ Hospital outpatient of Diabetic Clinic. PCOS women were undergone to BBR treatment (Berberol, 500 mg berberine hydrochloride and 105 mg Silymarin, Pharmaextracta, Italy) that was administered twice for 3 months. Obese healthy women were encouraged to lifestyle changes by: a restriction intake (hypocaloric diet of 1200 Kcal/day) and aerobic physical exercise (running or bicycle at least 5 h/week).

Clinical, (anthropometric and hormonal) metabolic and reproductive parameters were assessed before and after the period of treatment in both groups of obese PCOS and healthy women.

Results: Treatment with BBR showed decreased waist circumference (WC) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR; P<0.05), triglycerides (TG) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c; P<0.05) as well as increased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-c) and sex hormone binding globuline (SHBG; P<0.05) in comparison to healthy women. Similarly, BBR treatment showed a reduction in several metabolic parameters, like: fasting plasma glucose, fasting insulin, HOMA-IR and AUCINS (P<0.01) and also ovulation rate improved in PCOS group compared to healthy women (P<0.01).

Conclusions: BBR improved several clinical, metabolic and reproductive features in obese PCOS women and main effects could be related to the improvement of insulin sensitivity and reduction of hyperandrogenemia. BBR also seemed to have a greater effect on the changes in body composition and dyslipidemia. However, the underlying mechanisms of its actions remain to be clarified in wider and longer term clinical trials.

Declaration of interest: The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest that could be perceived as prejudicing the impartiality of the research project.

Funding: This research did not receive any specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sector.