Osteoporosis is a common skeletal disease. It is caused by decreased bone mass and enhances the risk of bone fracture. In this study, I aimed to discover novel herbal extract(s) for the treatment of osteoporosis.
I screened 64 ethanol extracts of edible plants native to Korea for their ability to increase the cellular proliferation and differentiation of two osteoblastic cell lines: C3H10T1/2 and MC3T3-E1. I selected a Lycii Radicis Cortex (LRC), Lycium Chinense root bark, as the primary candidate. Treatment with LRC extract showed enhanced alkaline phosphatase activity and an increased expression of bone metabolic markers Alpl, Runx2, and Bglap genes in both cell lines. There was no effect on the osteoclastic differentiation of primary-cultured monocytes from the mouse bone marrows.
Furthermore, the effect of LRC extract in vivo was examined in ovariectomized (OVX) mice. The OVX mice administered LRC extract for 8 weeks and 16 weeks, respectively, exhibited significantly increased bone mineral density (BMD) compared to the non-treated control OVX mice, and no toxic effects were observed. My results indicated that LRC extract reduced the OVX-induced BMD loss in mice via promoting the differentiation of osteoblast linage cells. It also suggested that LRC extract may be a good candidate for the treatment of osteoporosis with few side effects. This is the first report demonstrating the effect of LRC extract on bone formation in vitro and in vivo.