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Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2020, Vol. 18 ›› Issue (2): 125-151.doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2020.01.004

• Systematic Review • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Berberine for prevention of dementia associated with diabetes and its comorbidities: A systematic review

Noriko Shinjyoa, James Parkinsonb, Jimmy Bellb, Tatsuro Katsunoc, Annie Blighd   

  1. a. Department of Infection and Host Defense, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chuo-ku, Chiba 260-8670, Japan
    b. Department of Life Sciences, Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of Westminster, London W1W 6UW, United Kingdom
    c. Kashiwanoha Clinic of East Asian Medicine, Chiba University Hospital, Kashiwa, Chiba 277-0882, Japan
    d. School of Health Sciences, Caritas Institute of Higher Education, Tseung Kwan O, NT 999077, Hong Kong, China
  • Received:2019-06-23 Accepted:2019-12-04 Online:2020-03-10 Published:2020-01-16
  • Contact: Noriko Shinjyo, Email:,; Jimmy Bell, Email:; Annie Bligh, Email:


A growing number of epidemiological studies indicate that metabolic syndrome (MetS) and its associated features play a key role in the development of certain degenerative brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Produced by several different medicinal plants, berberine is a bioactive alkaloid with a wide range of pharmacological effects, including antidiabetic effects. However, it is not clear whether berberine could prevent the development of dementia in association with diabetes.


To give an overview of the therapeutic potential of berberine as a treatment for dementia associated with diabetes.

Search strategy

Database searches A and B were conducted using PubMed and ScienceDirect. In search A, studies on berberine’s antidementia activities were identified using “berberine” and “dementia” as search terms. In search B, recent studies on berberine’s effects on diabetes were surveyed using “berberine” and “diabetes” as search terms.

Inclusion criteria

Clinical and preclinical studies that investigated berberine’s effects associated with MetS and cognitive dysfunction were included.

Data extraction and analysis

Data from studies were extracted by one author, and checked by a second; quality assessments were performed independently by two authors.


In search A, 61 articles were identified, and 22 original research articles were selected. In search B, 458 articles were identified, of which 101 were deemed relevant and selected. Three duplicates were removed, and a total of 120 articles were reviewed for this study. The results demonstrate that berberine exerts beneficial effects directly in the brain: enhancing cholinergic neurotransmission, improving cerebral blood flow, protecting neurons from inflammation, limiting hyperphosphorylation of tau and facilitating β-amyloid peptide clearance. In addition, evidence is growing that berberine is effective against diabetes and associated disorders, such as atherosclerosis, cardiomyopathy, hypertension, hepatic steatosis, diabetic nephropathy, gut dysbiosis, retinopathy and neuropathy, suggesting indirect benefits for the prevention of dementia.

Berberine could impede the development of dementia via multiple mechanisms: preventing brain damages and enhancing cognition directly in the brain, and indirectly through alleviating risk factors such as metabolic dysfunction, and cardiovascular, kidney and liver diseases. This study provided evidence to support the value of berberine in the prevention of dementia associated with MetS.

Key words: Berberine, Diabetes, Dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Vascular dementia

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