OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effects of icariin, an effective extract from traditional Chinese medicine Epimedium pubescens with the function of tonifying kidney, in promoting osteogenesis of mesenchymal stem cell line C3H10T1/2, and to explore the underlying mechanism. METHODS: After culture with icariin (0, 10-7, 10-6, 10-5, and 10-4 mol/L) and osteogenic supplement for 26 d in vitro, osteogenic differentiation of C3H10T1/2 cells was detected by alkaline phosphatase (ALP) assay. The RNA was extracted from cells cultured with 10-5 mol/L icariin for 2, 8, 24 and 48 hours, and mRNA expressions of p38, p42 and p44 were measured using real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method. Three main proteins of MAPK signaling pathway (p38, and extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK), also named p42/44) and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and their phospho-products were examined using Western blotting after icariin treatments of 10, 30, 60 and 120 min. RESULTS: Icariin at a dose of 10-5 mol/L, when combined with the osteogenic supplement, had the best ability to promote osteogenic differentiation on C3H10T1/2 cells. Based on real-time PCR, the authors found that after two-hour ICA treatment, the gene expression of p38 revealed a significant decline compared with the control group (P<0.01). The levels of p42 and p44 mRNAs were decreased greatly after two-hour ICA treatment, while increased after 48-hour ICA treatment (P<0.05, P<0.01). There was no significant difference at other time points (P>0.05). Phospho-p42 was decreased after 10-minute icariin treatment, while phospho-p38 expression displayed an increase after 10- and 30-minute of treatment with icariin. There was no notable difference in phospho-JNK expression at these four time points. CONCLUSION: Icariin promotes differentiation of the mesenchymal stem cells C3H10T1/2 into osteoblasts, and its effect is related to the restraining of ERK expression and activation of p38 expression in the MAPK signaling pathway.
- Mesenchymal stem cells
- Mitogen-activated protein kinase
- Mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase
- P38 mitogen-activated protein kinase
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Complementary and alternative medicine