Theranostics 2017; 7(9):2443-2451. doi:10.7150/thno.18290

Research Paper

Gut Microbiota-Mediated Personalized Treatment of Hyperlipidemia Using Berberine

Yan Wang1*✉, Qian Tong2*, Jia-Wen Shou1*, Zhen-Xiong Zhao1, Xiao-Yang Li1, Xian-Feng Zhang2, Shu-Rong Ma1, Chi-Yu He1, Yuan Lin1, Bao-Ying Wen1, Fang Guo1, Jie Fu1, Jian-Dong Jiang1✉

1. State Key Laboratory of Bioactive Substance and Function of Natural Medicines, Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences/Peking Union Medical College, Beijing 100050, China;
2. The First Hospital of Jilin University, Changchun 130021, China.
* These authors made an equal contribution to this work.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
Wang Y, Tong Q, Shou JW, Zhao ZX, Li XY, Zhang XF, Ma SR, He CY, Lin Y, Wen BY, Guo F, Fu J, Jiang JD. Gut Microbiota-Mediated Personalized Treatment of Hyperlipidemia Using Berberine. Theranostics 2017; 7(9):2443-2451. doi:10.7150/thno.18290. Available from

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Nitroreductases (NRs) are bacterial enzymes that reduce nitro-containing compounds. We have previously reported that NR of intestinal bacteria is a key factor promoting berberine (BBR) intestinal absorption. We show here that feeding hamsters with high fat diet (HFD) caused an increase in blood lipids and NR activity in the intestine. The elevation of fecal NR by HFD was due to the increase in either the fraction of NR-producing bacteria or their activity in the intestine. When given orally, BBR bioavailability in the HFD-fed hamsters was higher than that in those fed with normal chow (by +72%, *P<0.05). BBR (100 mg/kg/day, orally) decreased blood lipids in the HFD-fed hamsters (**P<0.01) but not in those fed with normal diet. Clinical studies indicated that patients with hyperlipidemia had higher fecal NR activity than that in the healthy individuals (**P<0.01). Similarly, after oral administration, the blood level of BBR in hyperlipidemic patients was higher than that in healthy individuals (*P<0.05). Correlation analysis revealed a positive relationship between blood BBR and fecal NR activity (r=0.703). Thus, the fecal NR activity might serve as a biomarker in the personalized treatment of hyperlipidemia using BBR.

Keywords: Berberine, Hyperlipidemia, Gut microbiota, Nitroreductase, Absorption, Bioavailability.