Pharmaceutical Research

, 36:149 | Cite as

Nano-Co-Delivery of Berberine and Anticancer Drug Using PLGA Nanoparticles: Exploration of Better Anticancer Activity and In Vivo Kinetics

  • Iliyas Khan
  • Gaurav Joshi
  • Kartik T Nakhate
  • Ajazuddin
  • Raj Kumar
  • Umesh GuptaEmail author
Research Paper



Combinatorial approach can be beneficial for cancer treatment with better patient recovery. Co-delivery of natural and synthetic anticancer drug not only valuable to achieve better anticancer effectivity but also to ascertain toxicity. This study was aimed to co-deliver berberine (natural origin) and doxorubicin (synthetic origin) utilizing conjugation/encapsulation strategy through poly (lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) nanoparticles.


Doxorubicin was efficiently conjugated to PLGA via carbodiimide chemistry and the PLGA-doxorubicin conjugate (PDC) was used for encapsulation of berberine (PDBNP).


Significant anti-proliferative against MDA-MB-231 and T47D breast cancer cell lines were observed with IC50 of 1.94 ± 0.22 and 1.02 ± 0.36 μM, which was significantly better than both the bio-actives (p < 0.05). The ROS study revealed that the PDBNP portrayed the slight increase in the reactive oxygen species (ROS) pattern in MDA-MB-231 cell line in a dose-dependent manner, while in T47D cells, no significant change in ROS was seen. PDBNP exhibits significant alteration (depolarization) in mitochondrial membrane permeability and arrest of cell cycle progression at sub G1 phase while the Annexin V/PI assay followed by confocal microscopy resulted into cell death mode to be because of necrosis against MDA-MB-231 cells. In vivo studies in Sprague Dawley rats revealed almost 14-fold increase in half life and a significant increase in plasma drug concentration.


The overall approach of PLGA based co-delivery of doxorubicin and berberine witnessed synergetic effect and reduced toxicity as evidenced by preliminary toxicity studies.

Key Words

berberine encapsulation in vivo pharmacokinetics mitochondrial pathway necrosis PLGA-doxorubicin conjugate 



Atomic force microscopy






Human Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells


N-hydroxy succinimide


Berberine loaded PLGA-doxorubicin nanoparticles


PLGA-doxorubicin conjugate


Poly lactide-co-glycolide


Blank nanoparticle


Polyvinyl alcohol


Red blood cells


Reactive oxygen species


Scanning electron microscopy



The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support received from Department of Science and Technology and University Grants Commission, New Delhi, India to Dr. Umesh Gupta in the form of DST Start up Research Grant (for Young Scientists). The first author (IK) also would like to acknowledge Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi (Award letter no. 45/12/2018-Nan/BMS) for providing Senior Research Fellowship (SRF). GJ thanks CSIR, New Delhi (Grant no. 05/1051(0011)/2018-EMR-I) for providing SRF. The authors declare no competing financial interest. The authors would also like to acknowledge the Central Instrumentation Laboraory Central University of Punjab for extending facilities to carry out microscopy.

Supplementary material

11095_2019_2677_MOESM1_ESM.docx (695 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 694 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmacy, School of Chemical Sciences and PharmacyCentral University of RajasthanAjmerIndia
  2. 2.Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Natural Products, School of Basic and Applied SciencesCentral University of PunjabBathindaIndia
  3. 3.Rungta College of Pharmaceutical Science and ResearchBhilaiIndia

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