• Coptidis rhizoma;
  • berberine;
  • colon 26/clone 20 cells;
  • cachexia;
  • IL-6


We previously showed that the natural herb Coptidis rhizoma has an anticachectic effect in nude mice bearing human esophageal cancer cells. We further investigated this phenomenon by examining the anticachectic effect of C. rhizoma in syngeneic mice bearing colon 26/clone 20 carcinoma cells, which cause IL-6–related cachexia after cell injection. We evaluated nutritional parameters such as serum glucose level and wasting of adipose tissue and muscle in tumor-bearing and non-tumor-bearing mice treated with C. rhizoma (CR) supplement or a normal diet. IL-6 levels in those mice were quantified by ELISA and real-time RT-PCR. CR supplementation significantly attenuated weight loss in tumor-bearing mice without changing food intake or tumor growth. Furthermore, these mice maintained good nutritional status. IL-6 mRNA levels in tumors and spleens and IL-6 protein levels in tumors and sera were significantly lower in tumor-bearing mice treated with CR supplement than in those treated with a normal diet. CR supplementation did not affect food intake, body weight, nutritional parameters and IL-6 levels in non-tumor-bearing mice. An in vitro study showed that C. rhizoma and its major component, berberine, inhibited IL-1–induced IL-6 mRNA expression in a dose-dependent manner in colon 26/clone 20 cells. Our results showed that C. rhizoma exerts an anticachectic effect on colon 26/clone 20–transplanted mice and that its effect is associated with tumor IL-6 production. We also suggest that its effect might be due to berberine. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.