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2022, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (11): 1772-1779

Active monomer composition of Epimedium influences the homeostasis of bone resorption and bone formation by regulating osteoporosis related signaling pathways

Li Shibin1, Xia Tian2, Zhang Xiaoyun1, Wang Weiwei1, Zhou Yi1, Lai Yu1   

  1. 1Ruikang Hospital Affiliated to Guangxi University of Chinese Medicine, Nanning 530011, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China; 2Guangxi University of Chinese Medicine, Nanning 530000, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China

  • Received:2021-06-08 Revised:2021-06-10 Accepted:2021-07-16 Online:2022-04-18 Published:2021-12-13

  • Contact: Xia Tian, MD candidate, Associate professor, Guangxi University of Chinese Medicine, Nanning 530000, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China

  • About author:Li Shibin, Master candidate, Ruikang Hospital Affiliated to Guangxi University of Chinese Medicine, Nanning 530011, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China

  • Supported by:

    the National Natural Science Foundation of China, Nos. 81760796 and 81960803 (both to ZXY [project participant]); Guangxi Natural Science Foundation for the Youth, No. 2020GXNSFBA159053 (to ZXY); Young Teachers’ Basic Ability Improvement Project of Guangxi Universities, No. 2019KY0352 (to ZXY); Guangxi Innovation Projects for Graduate Education, No. YCBXJ2021019 (to XT) and YCSW2021219 (to XT [project participant])



Abstract: BACKGROUND: Osteoporosis is a metabolic bone disease that seriously affects the health of middle-aged and elderly people. At present, western medicine is the main clinical treatment for osteoporosis. With the rapid development of traditional medicine in China, a large number of studies in recent years have found that some monomer components in Epimedium, such as icaritin, icariin, icariside, total flavonoids of Epimedium, and Epimedium polysaccharides, can effectively inhibit bone resorption and bone destruction, promote the proliferation and differentiation of osteoblasts, and ultimately prevent and treat osteoporosis.
OBJECTIVE: To explore the mechanism by which the main active monomer components of Epimedium mediate related signaling pathways to prevent and treat osteoporosis, thereby providing new ideas for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis in the future.
METHODS: WanFang, CNKI, VIP, PubMed, and MEDLINE databases were retrieved with the keywords of “Epimedium, Osteoporosis, Bone cell, Monomer component, Osteoblast differentiation, Cell proliferation, signaling pathway” in Chinese and English, respectively. Relevant literatures published from their inceptions to 2021, which detailed the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis by active monomer components of Epimedium mediate related signaling pathways, were retrieved.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: Epimedium has small adverse reactions, accelerates the proliferation and differentiation of osteoblasts, and directly inhibits the bone resorption of osteoclasts. Therefore, it has broad prospects in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. The total flavonoids of Epimedium and its active monomer components may play anti-osteoporosis effects through the regulation of bone metabolism via multi-channels and multiple levels such as endocrine hormones, protein, molecular biology, and genetics. Compared with other epimedium flavonoids, icariside II has better solubility and permeability. It may be another kind of Epimedium flavonoids with anti-osteoporosis effect. Currently, there are numerous studies about Epimedium regulating the main target genes of Wnt/β-catenin, mitogen-activated protein kinases, osteoprotegerin/receptor activator for nuclear factor-κB ligand/receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB, bone morphogenetic protein/Runt-related transcription factor 2/osterix, and Notch signaling pathways. However, further explorations are required on the secondary target genes and synergistic effects between signaling pathways.

Key words:Epimedium, osteoporosis, bone cell, monomer component, osteoblast differentiation, cell proliferation, signaling pathway, review


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