Category Archives: Flavonoids

Icariin Inhibits Osteoclasts In Vitro


Icariin inhibits the osteoclast formation induced by RANKL and macrophage-colony stimulating factor in mouse bone marrow culture.

Icariin is a prenylated flavonol glycoside contained in the herb Epimedium, which has long been used to improve bone fracture healing or prevent osteoporosis because of the belief that the herb has bone-strengthening action. We have previously demonstrated that icariin enhances the osteogenic differentiation of rat bone marrow stromal cells, and partially explained the bone-strengthening mechanism of the herb. In the present study, the effect of icariin on osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption activity was investigated in mouse bone marrow culture. It was found that icariin dose-dependently inhibited the growth and differentiation of hemopoietic cells from which osteoclasts were formed. Far less TRAP+ multinuclear cells appeared in the 10 microM icariin group than in the control. The bone resorption pits formed in the 10 microM icariin group was also significantly less than that of the control. RT-PCR analysis showed that the gene expression of TRAP, RANK and CTR was obviously lower than that of the control. It can be concluded that icariin has the ability to inhibit the formation and bone resorption activity of osteoclasts, which suggests that icariin should be the effective component for the bone-strengthening action of herb Epimedium.

Chen KM, Ge BF, Liu XY, Ma PH…
Pharmazie May 2007
PMID: 17557750

Horny Goat Weed Icariin Metabolites Enhance Osteoblasts and Inhibit Osteoclasts In Vitro


Icaritin and its glycosides enhance osteoblastic, but suppress osteoclastic, differentiation and activity in vitro.

Icariin, a principal flavonoid glycoside in Herba Epimedii, is hypothesized to possess beneficial effects on bone mass. Icariin is metabolized to icariside II and then to icaritin in vivo. In the present study, we investigated the in vitro effects of icariin, icariside II and icaritin on both osteoblasts and osteoclasts. After treatment with these compounds at concentrations 10(-5)-10(-8) mol/l, osteoblasts were examined for proliferation, alkaline phosphatase activity, osteocalcin secretion and matrix mineralization, as well as expression levels of bone-related proteins. The formation of osteoclasts was assessed by counting the number of multinucleated TRAP-positive cells. The activity of isolated rat osteoclasts was evaluated by measuring pit area, actin rings and superoxide generation. Icariside II and icaritin increased the mRNA expression of ALP, OC, COL-1 and OPG, but suppressed that of RANKL. In addition, these compounds reduced the number of multinucleated TRAP-positive cells and the osteoclastic resorption area. Also decreases were observed in superoxide generation and actin ring formation that are required for osteoclast survival and bone resorption activity. These findings suggest that icaritin, which was more potent than icariin and icariside II, enhanced the differentiation and proliferation of osteoblasts, and facilitated matrix calcification; meanwhile it inhibited osteoclastic differentiation in both osteoblast-preosteoclast coculture and osteoclast progenitor cell culture, and reduced the motility and bone resorption activity of isolated osteoclasts.

Huang J, Yuan L, Wang X, Zhang TL…
Life Sci. Aug 2007
PMID: 17764702

Icariin, Anemarsaponin BII, and Berberine Benefit Bones


Antiosteoporotic chemical constituents from Er-Xian Decoction, a traditional Chinese herbal formula.

Er Xian Decoction (EXD), a traditional Chinese medicine formula, has long been used for the treatment of osteoporosis and menopausal syndrome in China. The present study was designed to investigate the antiosteoporotic constituents of EXD, and evaluate their antiosteoporotic effects in ovariectomized rats.
Osteoblasts in neonatal calvaria cultures and osteoclasts derived from rat marrow cells were used to bioactivity-guided screen the active constituents. The proliferation of osteoblast was assayed by MTT methods. The activity of ALP and TRAP was measured by p- nitrophenyl sodium phosphate assay. The antiosteoporotic effects of icariin (1), anemarsaponin B II (8) and berberine (6) were verified by using OVX rats model. The bone mineral density (BMD) was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry using the small animal scan mode. The undecalcified longitudinal proximal tibial metaphysical (PTM) sections were cut and stained for the bone histomorphometric analysis.
Bioactivity-guided fractionation has led to the successful isolation of antiosteoporotic constituents, i.e., icariin (1), icariside I (2), baohuoside I (3), mangiferin (4), neomangiferin (5), berberine (6), anemarsaponin B (7), anemarsaponin BII (8), anemarsaponin C (9), anemarrhenasaponin I (10), rubiadin-1-methyl ether (11) and obaculactone (12) from EXD. Further study showed that icariin (1), anemarsaponin BII (8) and berberine (6) increased the BMD in ovariectomized rats, and icariin (1) not only increased the bone formation, but also inhibited bone resorption; anemarsaponin BII (8) mainly increased bone formation and berberine (6) only inhibited the bone resorption in ovariectomized rats.
Our findings demonstrate that multiple ingredients are responsible for antiosteoporotic activity in traditional Chinese medicine formula Er-Xian decoction.

Qin L, Han T, Zhang Q, Cao D…
J Ethnopharmacol Jul 2008
PMID: 18501540

Icariin Stimulates Proliferation and Differentiation of Human Osteoblasts In Vitro


Icariine stimulates proliferation and differentiation of human osteoblasts by increasing production of bone morphogenetic protein 2.

Icariine is a flavonoid isolated from a traditional Chinese medicine Epimedium pubescens and is the main active compound of it. Recently, Epimedium pubescens was found to have a therapeutic effect on osteoporosis. But the mechanism is unclear. The aim of the study was to research the effect of Icariine on the proliferation and differentiation of human osteoblasts.
Human osteoblasts were obtained by inducing human marrow mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) directionally and were cultured in the presence of various concentrations of Icariine. 3-(4, 5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2, 5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) test was used to observe the effect of Icariine on cell proliferation. The activity of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and the amount of calcified nodules were assayed to observe the effect on cell differentiation. The expression of bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2) mRNA was detected by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
Icariine (20 microg/ml) increased significantly the proliferation of human osteoblasts. And, Icariine (10 microg/ml and 20 microg/ml) increased the activity of ALP and the amount of calcified nodules of human osteoblasts significantly (P < 0.05). BMP-2 mRNA synthesis was elevated significantly in response to Icariine (20 microg/ml).
Icariine has a direct stimulatory effect on the proliferation and differentiation of cultured human osteoblast cells in vitro, which may be mediated by increasing production of BMP-2 in osteoblasts.

Yin XX, Chen ZQ, Liu ZJ, Ma QJ…
Chin. Med. J. Feb 2007
PMID: 17355822 | Free Full Text

Horny Goat Weed Phytoestrogens Maintain Bone Density Over 2 Years in Women


Epimedium-derived phytoestrogen flavonoids exert beneficial effect on preventing bone loss in late postmenopausal women: a 24-month randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled trial.

Epimedium brevicornum maxim, a nonleguminous medicinal plant, has been found to be rich in phytoestrogen flavonoids. Results from a 24-month randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial showed that Epimedium-derived phytoestrogen flavonoids were able to exert beneficial effects on preventing bone loss in late postmenopausal women, without resulting in a detectable hyperplasia effect on the endometrium.
We performed a 24-mo randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial for evaluating the effect of the Epimedium-derived phytoestrogen flavonoids (EPFs) on BMD, bone turnover biochemical markers, serum estradiol, and endometrial thickness in postmenopausal women.
One hundred healthy late postmenopausal women, with a natural menopausal history within 10 approximately 18 yr and with a BMD T-score at the lumbar spine between -2 and -2.5 SD, were randomized into EPF treatment group (n = 50; a daily dose of 60 mg Icariin, 15 mg Daidzein, and 3 mg Genistein) or placebo control group (n = 50). All participants received 300 mg element calcium daily. BMD, bone turnover biochemical markers, serum estradiol, and endometrial thickness were measured at baseline and 12 and 24 mo after intervention.
Eighty-five participants completed the trial. The patterns of BMD changes were significantly different between the EPF treatment group and placebo control group by repeated-measures ANOVA (p = 0.045 for interaction between time and group at femoral neck; p = 0.006 for interaction between time and group at lumbar spine). BMD was found with a decreased tendency in the placebo control group at 12 (femoral neck: -1.4%, p = 0.104; lumbar spine: -1.7%, p = 0.019) and 24 mo (femoral neck: -1.8%, p = 0.048; lumbar spine: -2.4%, p = 0.002), whereas EPF treatment maintained BMD at 12 (femoral neck: 1.1%, p = 0.285; lumbar spine:1.0%, p = 0.158) and 24 mo (femoral neck: 1.6%, p = 0.148; lumbar spine: 1.3%, p = 0.091). The difference in lumbar spine between the two groups was significant at both 12 (p = 0.044) and 24 mo (p = 0.006), whereas the difference in the femoral neck was marginal at 12 mo (p = 0.061) and significant at 24 mo (p = 0.008). Levels of bone biochemical markers did not change in the placebo control group. In contrast, EPF intervention significantly decreased levels of deoxypyrdinoline at 12 (-43%, p = 0.000) and 24 mo (-39%, p = 0.000), except for osteocalcin at 12 (5.6%, p = 0.530) and 24 mo (10.7%, p = 0.267). A significant difference in deoxypyrdinoline between the two groups was found at both 12 (p = 0.000) and 24 mo (p = 0.001). Furthermore, neither serum estradiol nor endometrial thickness was found to be changed in either groups during the clinical trial.
EPFs exert a beneficial effect on preventing bone loss in late postmenopausal women without resulting in a detectable hyperplasia effect on the endometrium.

Zhang G, Qin L, Shi Y
J. Bone Miner. Res. Jul 2007
PMID: 17419678

Horny Goat Weed and Icariin may Promote Osteoblasts In Vitro


Effects of total flavonoids and flavonol glycosides from Epimedium koreanum Nakai on the proliferation and differentiation of primary osteoblasts.

In a bioassay-guided drug screening for anti-osteoporosis activity, eight flavonol glycosides were isolated from Epimedium koreanum Nakai, which is traditionally widely used in China for the treatment of impotence and osteoporosis. The effects of total flavonoids and flavonol glycosides on the proliferation and differentiation of rat calvarial osteoblast-like cells were evaluated by the MTT method and measuring the activity of alkaline phosphatase (ALP activity). Total flavonoids (1.2 x10(-2) to 6.0 x10(-7) mg/ml) and flavonol glycosides (2.0 x10(-5) to 1.0 x10(-9) mol/l) exhibited a strong inhibition on the proliferation of primary osteoblasts at most concentrations. However, the total flavonoids and icariin significantly promoted the differentiation of primary osteoblasts. The results suggested that flavonoids from E. koreanum Nakai may improve the development of osteoblasts by promoting the ALP activity; and icariin might be one of the active constituents facilitating the differentiation of osteoblasts.

Zhang DW, Cheng Y, Wang NL, Zhang JC…
Phytomedicine Jan 2008
PMID: 17482445

Phloretin Reduces Osteoclast Size by Inhibiting Aquaporin 9 In Vitro


Involvement of aquaporin 9 in osteoclast differentiation.

Aquaporins (water channels) selectively enhance water permeability of membranes. Since osteoclast differentiation includes a dramatic increase in cell volume, we hypothesize that aquaporin(s) is/are critical for the formation of the multinucleated osteoclast from its mononuclear precursor. Our studies employ two cell models, bone marrow macrophages (BMMs) and the murine macrophage-like cell line, RAW264.7, as osteoclast precursors. Receptor activator of nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB) ligand (RANKL) and macrophage-colony-stimulating factor or RANKL alone were used to induce osteoclast differentiation in BMMs or RAW264.7 cells, respectively. We first used qualitative reverse transcription (RT)-PCR to examine which of the aquaporins are expressed in osteoclasts and in their precursor cells. Out of the 10 aquaporins examined, only aquaporin 9 (AQP9) was expressed in osteoclast-lineage cells. AQP9 has unique aqueous pore properties mediating the passage of a wide variety of non-charged solutes in addition to water. Western analyses using specific antibodies revealed a higher AQP9 level in RANKL-treated than in untreated cells. Quantitative real-time RT-PCR analyses also demonstrated higher AQP9 mRNA levels in RANKL-treated cells. Finally, we examined the effect of phloretin, an AQP9 inhibitor, on RANKL-induced osteoclast differentiation. Cells were incubated with RANKL for 5 days, and phloretin was added for the last 2 days, when most fusion occurs. A dramatic reduction in osteoclast size and in the number of nuclei per osteoclast was observed in cultures containing phloretin. The inhibitor did not have a significant effect on the number and size of mononuclear phagocytes in cultures not treated with RANKL. Our results suggest a role for AQP9 in osteoclast differentiation, specifically in the fusion process.

Aharon R, Bar-Shavit Z
J. Biol. Chem. Jul 2006
PMID: 16698796 | Free Full Text

Naringenin Derivative has Bone Anabolic Effects


A naturally occurring naringenin derivative exerts potent bone anabolic effects by mimicking oestrogen action on osteoblasts.

Naringenin and its derivatives have been assessed in bone health for their oestrogen-‘like’ effects but low bioavailability impedes clinical potential. This study was aimed at finding a potent form of naringenin with osteogenic action.
Osteoblast cultures were harvested from mouse calvaria to study differentiation by naringenin, isosakuranetin, poncirin, phloretin and naringenin-6-C-glucoside (NCG). Balb/cByJ ovariectomized (OVx) mice without or with osteopenia were given naringenin, NCG, 17β-oestradiol (E2) or parathyroid hormone (PTH). Efficacy was evaluated by bone microarchitecture using microcomputed tomography and determination of new bone formation by fluorescent labelling of bone. Plasma levels of NCG and naringenin were determined by HPLC.
NCG stimulated osteoblast differentiation more potently than naringenin, while isosakuranetin, poncirin or phloretin had no effect. NCG had better oral bioavailability than naringenin. NCG increased the mRNA levels of oestrogen receptors (ERs) and bone morphogenetic protein (an ER responsive gene) in vivo, more than naringenin. In OVx mice, NCG treatment in a preventive protocol increased bone formation rate (BFR) and improved trabecular microarchitecture more than naringenin or E2. In osteopenic mice, NCG but not naringenin, in a therapeutic protocol, increased BFR and improved trabecular microarchitecture, comparable with effects of PTH treatment. Stimulatory effects of NCG on osteoblasts were abolished by an ER antagonist. NCG transactivated ERβ but not ERα. NCG exhibited no uterine oestrogenicity unlike naringenin.
NCG is a potent derivative of naringenin that has bone anabolic action through the activation of osteoblast ERs and exhibited substantial oral bioavailability.

Swarnkar G, Sharan K, Siddiqui JA, Mishra JS…
Br. J. Pharmacol. Mar 2012
PMID: 21864313 | Free Full Text

Apigenin Inhibits Osteoclasts in Mouse Cells


Attenuation of osteoclastogenesis and osteoclast function by apigenin.

The physiological effects of the flavone, apigenin on bone cells were studied. We first show that apigenin inhibits tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha)- and interferon gamma (IFNgamma)-induced secretion of several osteoclastogenic cytokines from MC3T3-E1 mouse calvarial osteoblast cell line. Ligands of the TNF receptor family constitute the most potent osteoclastic cytokines. In MC3T3-E1 cells, apigenin dose-dependently (from 5 to 20 microM) inhibits TNFalpha-induced production of the osteoclastogenic cytokines, IL-6 (interleukin-6), RANTES (regulated upon activation, normal T cell-expressed and -secreted), monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) and MCP-3. In addition, apigenin inhibits IFNgamma-stimulated secretion of monokines, CXCL-9, and -10 in MC3T3-E1 cells. Next, we show that apigenin strongly inhibits differentiation of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes to adipocytes with attendant inhibition of adipocyte differentiation-induced IL-6, MCP-1, and leptin production. Inhibition of adipogenic differentiation by apigenin could be due to induction of osteogensis as it robustly upregulates mRNA levels of bone morphogenetic protein-6 (BMP-6). Finally, the presence of apigenin inhibited osteoclast differentiation from the RAW 264.7 cell line by reducing receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa ligand (RANKL)-induced expression of tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP), RANK, and calcitonin receptor but not CCR1, resulting in the inhibition of multinucleated osteoclast formation. Similarly, apigenin inhibited expression of the osteoclast differentiation markers TRAP, RANK, and c-Fms in osteoclast precursor cells obtained from mouse bone marrow following treatment with RANKL and macrophage colony stimulating factor (MCSF). Furthermore, apigenin induced apoptosis of mature osteoclasts obtained from rabbit long bone and inhibited bone resorption. In all instances, a structurally related compound, flavone had no significant effect. These data suggest that apigenin has multiple effects on all three bone cells that could prevent bone loss in vivo.

Bandyopadhyay S, Lion JM, Mentaverri R, Ricupero DA…
Biochem. Pharmacol. Jul 2006
PMID: 16750176

Phloretin Inhibits Osteoclasts In Vitro


Novel antiosteoclastogenic activity of phloretin antagonizing RANKL-induced osteoclast differentiation of murine macrophages.

Bone-remodeling imbalance resulting in more bone resorption than bone formation is known to cause skeletal diseases such as osteoporosis. Phloretin, a natural dihydrochalcone compound largely present in apple peels, possesses antiphotoaging, and antiinflammatory activity.
Phloretin inhibited receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL)-induced formation of multinucleated osteoclasts and diminished bone resorption area produced during the osteoclast differentiation process. It was also found that ≥ 10 μM phloretin reduced RANKL-enhanced tartrate-resistance acid phosphatase activity and matrix metalloproteinase-9 secretion in a dose-dependent manner. The phloretin treatment retarded RANKL-induced expression of carbonic anhydrase II, vacuolar-type H(+) -ATPase D2 and β3 integrin, all involved in the bone resorption. Furthermore, submicromolar phloretin diminished the expression and secretion of cathepsin K elevated by RANKL, being concurrent with inhibition of TRAF6 induction and NF-κB activation. RANKL-induced activation of nuclear factor of activated T cells c1 (NFATc1) and microphthalmia-associated transcription factor was also suppressed by phloretin.
These results demonstrate that the inhibition of osteoclast differentiation and bone resorption by phloretin entail a disturbance of TRAF6-NFATc1-NF-κB pathway triggered by RANKL. Therefore, phloretin may be a potential therapeutic agent targeting osteoclast differentiation and bone resorption in skeletal diseases such as osteoporosis.

Kim JL, Kang MK, Gong JH, Park SH…
Mol Nutr Food Res Aug 2012
PMID: 22700286