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Open Access Icariin enhances the osteogenic differentiation of bone marrow stromal cells but has no effects on the differentiation of newborn calvarial osteoblasts of rats

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Since the total flavonoid extract (TFE) of Epimedium herb was found to prevent osteoporosis induced by ovariectomy in rats, we have been attempting to identify the exact compound responsible for the bone-strengthening activity. In this experiment, four flavonoid extracts were obtained from Epimedium sagittatum (Siebold & Zucc.) Maxim, which contained 25.3%, 51.2%, 82.3% and 99.2% icariin respectively. They were separately supplemented into the culture media of newborn rat calvarial osteoblasts (ROB) or primary rat bone marrow stroma cells (rMSCs) at 0.1, 1, 10 and 100 μg/ml respectively, in order to observe their effects on the cells. Not any appreciable effect was found on the differentiation of ROB, but an enhancing effect on the osteogenic differentiation of rMSCs was found, and the enhancing degree was icariin-dependent, that is, a higher concentration of icariin in the extract caused more mineralized bone nodules and higher calcium deposition levels. The gene expressions involved in osteogenesis were also improved which was revealed by RT-PCR, including alkaline phosphatase, bone matrix protein (osteocalcin, osteopontin, bone sialoprotein) and cytokines (TGF-β1 and IGF-I). The effect of icariin on cell proliferation was assayed by the reduction of 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT). Icariin inhibited the proliferation of rMSCs and ROB when its concentration was higher than 10–5 μM (6.7 μg/ml), no stimulative effect was found. The above results indicated that icariin may exert bone-strengthening activity by enhancing the osteogenic differentiation of MSCs, which partially explains the anti-osteoporosis action of Epimedium herb.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Institute of Orthopaedics, Lanzhou General Hospital, Lanzhou, 730050, People's Republic of China, Email: 2: Department of Pharmacy, Lanzhou General Hospital, Lanzhou, People's Republic of China 3: Institute of Orthopaedics, Lanzhou General Hospital, Lanzhou, People's Republic of China

Publication date: October 1, 2007

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  • Pharmazie is one of the world's leading pharmaceutical journals. As a peer-reviewed scientific journal, DiePharmazie is regularly indexed in Current Contents/Life Sciences, Excerpta Medica, Analytical Abstracts, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, Beilstein Current Facts in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology Abstracts (CEABA) and Science Citation Index.
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