Icariin inhibits RANKL-induced osteoclastogenesis via modulation of the NF-κB and MAPK signaling pathways.


Department of Orthopedics, The First Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, Artificial Joints Engineering and Technology Research Center of Jiangxi Province, Nanchang, Jiangxi province, 330006, China; Multidisciplinary Therapy Center of Musculoskeletal Tumor, The First Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, Nanchang, Jiangxi province, 330006, China. Electronic address: [Email]


The receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) ligand (RANKL)-RANK regulatory axis is a major regulator of osteoclast differentiation and activation. Icariin, a flavonol glycoside isolated from the Epimedium herb, has been reported to prevents bone loss in ovariectomized mice and inhibits wear particle-induced osteolysis. However, the molecular mechanism through which icariin inhibits RANKL-induced osteoclastogenesis has not been fully understood. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the effects of icariin on RANKL-induced osteoclastogenesis and to elucidate the mechanism underlying this effect. Our results showed that RANKL-induced osteoclastogenesis was inhibited by icariin in bone marrow macrophages (BMMs) and RAW264.7 cells, and that this effect was due to suppression of NF-κB and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation. In addition, icariin inhibited F-actin ring formation and attenuated the bone resorption ability of mature osteoclasts. Collectively, our results indicate that icariin may be a promising potential candidate for the treatment of osteolytic diseases such as osteoporosis. Moreover, our findings lay the foundation for understanding and intervening in osteoclast-related diseases at the molecular level.