Fish Physiology and Biochemistry

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 83–91 | Cite as

Effects of berberine on growth, liver histology, and expression of lipid-related genes in blunt snout bream (Megalobrama amblycephala) fed high-fat diets

  • Wenhao Zhou
  • Samad Rahimnejad
  • Kangle LuEmail author
  • Lina Wang
  • Wenbin Liu


Fatty liver of cultured fish often correlates closely with poor growth and low harvest yield. Some Chinese herbs can reduce hepatic fat storage. This study aimed to examine lipid-lowering effect of berberine (BBR) in blunt snout bream (Megalobrama amblycephala). Triplicate groups of fish were fed four experimental diets: low-fat diet (LFD, 5% fat), high-fat diet (HFD, 15% fat), and HFD supplemented with 50 or 100 mg BBR/kg diet (BBR50, BBR100). After 8-week feeding, growth performance, liver histology and fat deposition, and hepatic genes expression were examined. The results showed significant reduction of growth performance and feed intake in fish fed HFD compared to those fed the LFD and BBR50 diets. Supplementing 50 mg BBR/kg to the HFD significantly improved weight gain and feed intake. Higher hepatic fat content and histological abnormalities were found in the liver of fish receiving HFD, and BBR50 and BBR100 could attenuate these abnormalities of liver. Expression of CPT I, AOX, ApoB100, ApoE, and PGC-1α genes was significantly decreased in fish fed HFD, and 50 and 100 mg/kg BBR supplementation could revert the downregulation of these genes. Also, the expression of FATP, LPL, and LDLR genes was upregulated in HFD-fed fish, and their expression was significantly decreased by 50 and 100 mg/kg BBR supplementation. In conclusion, supplementing BBR to HFD could attenuate liver fat deposition and disorders. The fat-lowering effects of BBR appear to be mediated by activating genes related with fatty acid oxidation and decreasing genes for fatty acid uptake.


High-fat diet Berberine Fish Fat deposition Fatty liver 



Acyl-CoA dehydrogenase


Alanine aminotransferase


AMP-activated protein kinase


Acyl-CoA oxidase

Apo B (E)

Apolipoprotein B (E)




Carnitine palmitoyltransferase I


Fatty acid binding protein


Fatty acyl-CoA synthetase


Fatty acid transport protein


Low-density lipoprotein receptor


Lipoprotein lipase


Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator-1α


Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor


Stearoyl-CoA desaturase


Funding information

This work was funded by National Nature Science Foundation of China (31602171), Nature Science Foundation of Fujian Province (2017J05056) and Foundation of Fujian Provincial Education Department (JAT160258).

Supplementary material

10695_2018_536_MOESM1_ESM.docx (16 kb)
Table S1 (DOCX 15 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fisheries CollegeJimei UniversityXiamenChina
  2. 2.College of Animal Science and TechnologyNanjing Agricultural UniversityNanjingChina

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