Osteoporosis international : a journal established as result of cooperation between the European Foundation for Osteoporosis and the National Osteoporosis Foundation of the USA

Icariin may benefit the mesenchymal stem cells of patients with steroid-associated osteonecrosis by ABCB1-promoter demethylation: a preliminary study.

PMID 25112719


In this study, we found out a previously undefined function of icariin which restored the dynamic balance between osteogenic and adipogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in patients with osteonecrosis of femoral head (ONFH) via ABCB1-promoter demethylation. These findings provided important information regarding potential implication of icariin targeting epigenetic changes for the treatment of steroid -associated ONFH. Here, we investigated whether icariin can also exert a beneficial role in the reactivation of MSCs in the patients with steroid-associated ONFH via ABCB1-promoter demethylation. Bone marrow was collected from the proximal femur in patients with steroid-associated ONFH (n = 20) and patients with new femoral neck fractures (n = 22), and then MSCs were isolated. We investigated cell viability, intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) level, mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP), P-glycoprotein (P-gp) activity, the transcript levels of ABCB1 and oxidative stress-related genes, methylation extent at CpG islands of ABCB1 promoter, and osteogenic and adipogenic differentiation ability of MSCs from the femoral neck fractures group and from the steroid-associated ONFH group treated with or without icariin. We observed that MSCs from the steroid-associated ONFH group showed reduced proliferation ability, elevated ROS level, depressed MMP, weakened osteogenesis, and enhanced adipogenesis while low P-gp activity, transcription level of ABCB1, and oxidative stress-related genes as well as aberrant CpG islands hypermethylation of ABCB1 were also noted in steroid-associated ONFH group. Treatment with icariin obviously induced de novo P-gp expression, decreased oxidative stress, and promoted osteogenesis. Icariin may be a potential drug targeting epigenetic changes for the treatment of steroid-associated ONFH.