Inhibitory effects of berberine on voltage- and calcium-activated potassium currents in human myeloma cells

Sheng Nan Wu, Hsin Su Yu, Chung Ren Jan, Hui Fang Li, Chia Li Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

51 Scopus citations


The effects of berberine, an isoquinoline alkaloid, were investigated in human myeloma cells. In cells with intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+](i)) = 10 nM, the depolarizing square pulses from -80 mV elicited an instantaneous outward current with an inactivation. This outward current was voltage dependent, activating at -30 mV and showed inactivation with repetitive depolarization, and was hence believed to be n type voltage- activated K+ current (I(K(v))). Berberine (30 μM) produced a prolongation in the recovery of I(K(v)) inactivation. In cells with [Ca2+](i) = 1 μM, berberine also inhibited A23187-induced I(K(Ca)). Berberine (1-300 μM) caused the inhibition of I(k(v)) and I(K(Ca)) in the concentration-dependent manners. The IC50 values of berberine-induced inhibition of I(K(v)) and I(K(Ca)) were approximately 15 μM and 50 μM, respectively. In inside-out configurations, berberine inside the pipette suppressed the activity of K(Ca) channels without changing the single channel conductance. Berberine also inhibited the proliferation of this cell line and the IC50 value of berberine-induced inhibition of cell proliferation was 5 μM. Thus, the cytotoxic effect of berberine in cancer cells may be partially explained by its direct blockade of these K+ channels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2283-2294
Number of pages12
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number25
StatePublished - 15 05 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Berberine
  • Cell proliferation
  • K current
  • Myeloma cells


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