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The increased activation of osteoclasts is the major manifestation of several lytic bone diseases, including osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, aseptic loosening of orthopedic implants, Paget disease and malignant bone diseases. One important bone-protective therapy in these diseases focuses on the inhibition of osteoclast differentiation and resorptive function. Given that the deleterious side-effects of currently available drugs, it is beneficial to search for effective and safe medications from natural compounds. Cepharanthine (CEP) is a compound extracted from Stephania japonica and has been found to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. In this study, we found that CEP inhibited receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) ligand (RANKL)-induced osteoclast formation and bone-resorbing activities using osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption assay. By polymerase chain reaction, we also found that CEP inhibited the expression of osteoclast-differentiation marker genes including Ctsk, Calcr, Atp6v0d2, Mmp9 and Nfatc1. Mechanistic analyses including Western blot and luciferase reporter assay revealed that CEP inhibited RANKL-induced activation of NF-κB and nuclear factor of activated T-cell, which are essential for the formation of osteoclast. Collectively, these data suggested that CEP can potentially be used as an alternative therapy for preventing or treating osteolytic diseases.
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