Talanta 2015 Nov 19;144:20-8. Epub 2015 May 19.
State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicines, Macau Institute for Applied Research in Medicine and Health, Macau University of Science and Technology, Avenida Wai Long, Taipa, Macau. Electronic address:
Berberine, an isoquinoline alkaloid, has been demonstrated to be a safe anti-cancer agent with multiple effects on mitochondria. Intracellular concentration and distribution around the targeting sites are determinants of efficacy, but subcellular distribution of berberine has not been fully elucidated yet, which relies on the sensitive and robustness assay. In this study, a sensitive and robust UPLC-MS/MS method has been developed and validated with optimized extraction solvents and detection conditions. Key factors such as the purity and integrity of isolated organelle fractions, and the effects of isolation procedures on the subcellular concentration of berberine were systemically evaluated. With the developed assay, we found that the intracellular accumulations of berberine in two gefitinib resistant NSCLC cell lines H1650 and H1975 were 2-3 folds higher than that of normal epithelial cells BEAS-2B. Moreover, significantly different subcellular distribution profiles in NSCLC cancer cells from that of BEAS-2B cells with a striking increase in content in most organelles may contribute to its selective cytotoxicity to cancer cells. Furthermore, a predominant accumulation of berberine was observed for the first time in microsomal fraction for all three cell lines. Therefore, this method could be used for quantitative evaluation of subcellular distribution and cellular accumulation of berberine and for further evaluation of the concentration-effects relationship.