Berberine as a chemical and pharmacokinetic marker of the butanol-extracted Food Allergy Herbal Formula-2

Nan Yang, Kamal Srivastava, Ying Song, Changda Liu, Sool Cho, Yujuan Chen, Xiu Min Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Rationale Food Allergy Herbal Formula 2 (FAHF-2) provided protection against peanut anaphylaxis in a murine model and induced beneficial immune-modulation in humans. Butanol-refined FAHF-2, B-FAHF-2, retained safety and efficacy in the peanut allergic murine model at only 1/5 of FAHF-2 dosage. One compound, berberine, was isolated and identified in vitro as a bioactive component present in FAHF-2 and B-FAHF-2. The aim of this study was to investigate berberine as a chemical and pharmacokinetic marker of B-FAHF-2. Methods The consistency of constituents between B-FAHF-2 and FAHF-2 was tested. Peanut allergic C3H/HeJ mice were orally administered with 1 mg of berberine or B-FAHF-2 containing anequivalent amount of berberine, and the ability to protect against peanut anaphylaxis and pharmacokinetic parameters were determined. Human intestinal epithelial cells (Caco-2) were cultured with berberine with or without the nine individual herbal constituents in B-FAHF-2, and the absorbed berberine levels were determined. Results Berberine is one of the major components in B-FAHF-2 and FAHF-2 formula. In a peanut allergic mouse model, B-FAHF-2, but not berberine, protected mice from anaphylaxis reactions. Pharmacokinetic profiles showed that the Cmax of B-FAHF-2 fed mice was 289.30 ± 185.40 ng/mL; whereas berberine alone showed very low bioavailability with Cmax value of 35.13 ± 47.90 ng/mL. Caco-2 cells influx assay showed that 7 of 9 herbal constituents in B-FAHF-2 increased berberine absorption at rates ranging from 18 to 205%. Conclusions B-FAHF-2 remarkably increased the bioavailability of berberine. Berberine can be used as chemical and pharmacokinetic marker of B-FAHF-2. Other herbal components in B-FAHF-2 may facilitate the absorption of berberine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-127
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Immunopharmacology
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • Berberine
  • Butanol-extracted Food Allergy Herbal Formula-2
  • Caco-2 cells
  • Food allergy
  • Pharmacokinetics


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