Scientific reports

Identification of berberine as a direct thrombin inhibitor from traditional Chinese medicine through structural, functional and binding studies.

PMID 28276481


Thrombin acts as a key enzyme in the blood coagulation cascade and represents a potential drug target for the treatment of several cardiovascular diseases. The aim of this study was to identify small-molecule direct thrombin inhibitors from herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). A pharmacophore model and molecular docking were utilized to virtually screen a library of chemicals contained in compositions of traditional Chinese herbs, and these analyses were followed by in vitro bioassay validation and binding studies. Berberine (BBR) was first confirmed as a thrombin inhibitor using an enzymatic assay. The BBR IC50 value for thrombin inhibition was 2.92 μM. Direct binding studies using surface plasmon resonance demonstrated that BBR directly interacted with thrombin with a KD value of 16.39 μM. Competitive binding assay indicated that BBR could bind to the same argartroban/thrombin interaction site. A platelet aggregation assay demonstrated that BBR had the ability to inhibit thrombin-induced platelet aggregation in washed platelets samples. This study proved that BBR is a direct thrombin inhibitor that has activity in inhibiting thrombin-induced platelet aggregation. BBR may be a potential candidate for the development of safe and effective thrombin-inhibiting drugs.

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