Catalpol promotes the osteogenic differentiation of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells via the Wnt/β-catenin pathway

Yu Zhu, Yanmao Wang, Yachao Jia, Jia Xu, Yimin Chai
Stem Cell Research & Therapy 2019 January 22, 10 (1): 37

BACKGROUND: Rehmanniae Radix is a traditional herbal medicine in East Asia that has been widely used to treat patients with osteoporosis. However, the effect of catalpol, the primary active principle component of Rehmanniae Radix, on the function of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) and the underlying molecular mechanisms associated with its activity remain poorly understood.

METHODS: The effect of catalpol on the proliferation of BMSCs was evaluated using a Cell Counting Kit-8 assay. Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) staining, ALP activity and Alizarin Red staining were performed to elucidate the effect of catalpol on the osteogenesis of BMSCs. qRT-PCR, Western blotting and immunofluorescence were performed to evaluate the expression of osteo-specific markers and the Wnt/β-catenin signalling-related genes and proteins. Moreover, a rat critical-sized calvarial defect model and a rat ovariectomy model were used to assess the effect of catalpol on bone regeneration in vivo.

RESULTS: Catalpol significantly enhanced osteoblast-specific gene expression, alkaline phosphatase activity and calcium deposition in BMSCs in vitro. This phenomenon was accompanied by an upregulation of Wnt/β-catenin signalling. In addition, the enhanced osteogenesis due to catalpol treatment was partially reversed by a Wnt/β-catenin antagonist. Furthermore, catalpol increased the bone healing capacity of BMSCs in a rat critical-sized calvarial defect model and attenuated bone loss in a rat ovariectomy model.

CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that catalpol enhances the osteogenic differentiation of BMSCs, partly via activation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway. Catalpol may provide a new strategy for bone tissue engineering and can be a potential agent for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis.

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