Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology

Phloretin promotes osteoclast apoptosis in murine macrophages and inhibits estrogen deficiency-induced osteoporosis in mice.

PMID 24932975


Bone-remodeling imbalance induced by increased osteoclast formation and bone resorption is known to cause skeletal diseases such as osteoporosis. The reduction of estrogen levels at menopause is one of the strongest risk factors developing postmenopausal osteoporosis. This study investigated osteoprotective effects of the dihydrochalcone phloretin found in apple tree leaves on bone loss in ovariectomized (OVX) C57BL/6 female mice as a model for postmenopausal osteoporosis. OVX demoted bone mineral density (BMD) of mouse femurs, reduced serum 17β-estradiol level and enhanced serum receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL)/osteoprotegerin ratio with uterine atrophy. Oral administration of 10 mg/kg phloretin to OVX mice for 8 weeks improved such effects, compared to sham-operated mice. Phloretin attenuated TRAP activity and cellular expression of β3 integrin and carbonic anhydrase II augmented in femoral bone tissues of OVX mice. This study further examined that osteogenic activity of phloretin in RANKL-differentiated Raw 264.7 macrophages into mature osteoclasts. Phloretin at 1-20 μM stimulated Smac expression and capase-3 activation concurrently with nuclear fragmentation of multi-nucleated osteoclasts, indicating that this compound promoted osteoclast apoptosis. Consistently, phloretin enhanced bcl-2 induction but diminished bax expression. Furthermore, phloretin activated ASK-1-diverged JNK and p38 MAPK signaling pathways in mature osteoclasts, whereas it dose-dependently inhibited the RANKL-stimulated activation of ERK. Therefore, phloretin manipulated ASK-1-MAPK signal transduction leading to transcription of apoptotic genes. Phloretin was effective in preventing estrogen deficiency-induced osteoclastogenic resorption.