Cichoric acid targets RANKL to inhibit osteoclastogenesis and prevent ovariectomy-induced bone loss

Yansi Xian, Yijie Gao, Yiji Su, Yuangang Su, Haoyu Lian, Xiaoliang Feng, Zhijuan Liu, Jinmin Zhao, Jiake Xu, Qian Liu, Fangming Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Aim: Osteoporosis, a systemic metabolic bone disease, is characterized by the decline of bone mass and quality due to excessive osteoclast activity. Currently, drug-targeting osteoclasts show promising therapy for osteoporosis. In this study, we investigated the effect of cichoric acid (CA) on receptor activator of nuclear kappa-B ligand (RANKL)-induced osteoclastogenesis and the bone loss induced by ovariectomy in mice. Experimental Procedure: Molecular docking technologies were employed to examine the interaction between CA and RANKL. CCK8 assay was used to evaluate the cell viability under CA treatment. TRAcP staining, podosome belt staining, and bone resorption assays were used to test the effect of CA on osteoclastogenesis and osteoclast function. Further, an OVX-induced osteoporosis mice model was employed to identify the effect of CA on bone loss using micro-CT scanning and histological examination. To investigate underlying mechanisms, network pharmacology was applied to predict the downstream signaling pathways, which were verified by Western blot and immunofluorescence staining. Key Results: The molecular docking analysis revealed that CA exhibited a specific binding affinity to RANKL, engaging multiple binding sites. CA inhibited RANKL-induced osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption without cytotoxic effects. Mechanistically, CA suppressed RANKL-induced intracellular reactive oxygen species, nuclear factor-kappa B, and mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways, followed by abrogated nuclear factor activated T-cells 1 activity. Consistent with this finding, CA attenuated post-ovariectomy-induced osteoporosis by ameliorating osteoclastogenesis. Conclusions and Implications: CA inhibited osteoclast activity and bone loss by targeting RANKL. CA might represent a promising candidate for treating osteoclast-related diseases, such as osteoporosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1971-1989
Number of pages19
JournalPhytotherapy Research
Issue number4
Early online date15 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


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