Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Semen astragali complanati- and rhizoma cibotii-enhanced bone formation in osteoporosis rats

Meijie Liu1, Gary Guishan Xiao2*, Peijing Rong3, Jiazi Dong1, Zhiguo Zhang1, Hongyan Zhao1, Jingru Teng1, Hongxia Zhao1, Jinghua Pan1, Yan Li1, Qinglin Zha4, Ying Zhang1 and Dahong Ju1*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Basic Theory, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, South Small Street 16, Dongzhimennei, Dongcheng District, Beijing 100700, China

2 Functional Genomics & Proteomics Laboratory, Osteoporosis Research Center, Creighton University Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68131, USA

3 Institute of Acupuncture Moxibustion, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, South Small Street 16, Dongzhimennei, Dongcheng District, Beijing 100700, China

4 Jiangxi College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Yunwan Road 18, Wanli District, Nanchang City, Jiangxi 330004, China

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:141  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-141

Published: 20 June 2013



Growing evidence shows that herb medicines have some anti-osteoporotic effects, the mechanism underlying is unknown. This study aims to investigate the therapeutic effect of Chinese herb supplements on rats that had osteoporosis-like symptom induced by ovariectomy (OVX).


OVX or sham operations were performed on virgin Wistar rats at three-month old, which were randomly divided into eight groups: sham (sham); OVX control group (OVX); OVX rats with treatments [either diethylstilbestrol (DES) or Semen Astragali Complanati decoction (SACD) or Rhizoma Cibotii decoction (RCD) or Herba Cistanches decoction (HCD) or Semen Allii Tuberosi decoction (SATD)]. Non-surgical rats were served as a normal control (NC). The treatments began 4 weeks after surgery, and lasted for 12 weeks. Bone mass and its turnover were analyzed by histomorphometry. Levels of protein and mRNA of osteoprotegerin (OPG) and receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand (RANKL) in osteoblasts (OB) and bone marrow stromal cells (bMSC) were evaluated by immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization.


Compared to OVX control, TBV% in both SACD and RCD groups was increased significantly, while TRS%, TFS%, MAR, and mAR were decreased remarkably in the SACD group, only TRS% decreased dramatically in the RCD group. No significant changes in bone formation were observed in either HCD or SATD groups. OPG levels in both protein and mRNA were reduced consistantly in OB and bMSC from OVX control rats, in contrast, RANKL levels in both protein and mRNA were increased significantly. These effects were substantially reversed by treatments with either DES or SACD or RCD. No significant changes in both OPG and RANKL expression were observed in OB and bMSC from OVX rats treated with SATD and HCD.


Our study showed that SACD and RCD increased bone formation by stimulating OPG expression and downregulating RANKL expression in OB and bMSC. This suggests that SACD and RCD may be developed as alternative anti-osteoporotic agents for therapy of postmenopausal osteoporosis.