Berberine sensitizes human glioma cells, but not normal glial cells, to ionizing radiation in vitro
Garret Yount, Yifang Gian, Dan Moore, Dan Basila, Jeremy West, Ken Aldape, Nils Arvold, Noga Shalev and Daphne Haas-Kogan
The identification of nontoxic agents that can enhance the efficacy of postoperative radiotherapy for patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) remains a challenge in oncology. We evaluated human GBM cell lines for their responsiveness to berberine, an alkaloid compound used commonly in Asia as an antibiotic. In experiments measuring clonogenic survival, treatment with a nontoxic dose of berberine rendered GBM cells more sensitive than vehicle-treated control cells to x-rays. Such radiosensitization was not observed in parallel experiments with primary human glial cultures. These data suggest that berberine could be integrated with postoperative radiotherapy to selectively promote residual GBM tumor cell death.