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Open Access Research article

Anti-osteoclastogenic activity of matairesinol via suppression of p38/ERK-NFATc1 signaling axis

Sik-Won Choi1, Kie-In Park2, Jeong-Tae Yeon3, Byung Jun Ryu1, Kwang-Jin Kim3 and Seong Hwan Kim1*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Translational Therapeutics, Pharmacology Research Center, Bio-Organic Science Division, Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology, P.O. Box 107, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 305-600, Korea

2 Division of Biological Sciences, College of Natural Science, Chonbuk National University, Jeonbuk 561-756, Korea

3 Department of Pharmacy, Sunchon National University, Suncheon 540-742, Korea

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:35  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-35

Published: 21 January 2014



Matairesinol is a plant lignan present in a wide variety of foodstuffs such as seeds, vegetables and fruits. It has various biological functions including anti-angiogenic, anti-cancer and anti-fungal activities, but its anti-osteoporotic activity, if any, is unknown.


For osteoclast differentiation, primary mouse bone marrow-derived macrophage cells (BMMs) were cultured for 4 days in the presence of RANKL and M-CSF with the vehicle (DMSO) or matairesinol. Cell cytotoxicity was examined by CCK-8 assay. Gene expression of NFATc1, TRAP, OSCAR, v-ATPasev0d2 were observed in the presence or absence of matairesinol (10 μM) for the indicated times. For evaluating the involvement of NFATc1 in the anti-osteoclastogenic action of matairesinol, BMMs were infected with pMX-IRES-GFP or pMX-IRES-CA-NFATc1-GFP for 8 h with polybrene, and then infected BMMs were cultured with M-CSF and RANKL for 4 days in the presence or absence of matairesinol (10 μM). MAPK signaling activation was examined by immunoblotting. For measuring the resorptive activity of mature osteoclasts, osteoclasts and osteoblasts were co-cultured on BioCoat Osteologic MultiTest slides, and treated with matairesinol for 24 h.


Here we show that matairesinol dose-dependently inhibited the RANKL-induced differentiation of BMMs into osteoclasts by downregulating RANKL-induced expression and activity of NFATc1. Ectopic overexpression of NFATc1 blunted the anti-osteoclastogenic effect of matairesinol implicating NFATc1 in the action of matairesinol. Additionally, matairesinol blocked the RANKL-induced activation of p38 and ERK in BMMs, but had no effect on bone resorption activity in mature osteoclasts.


Taken together, our results suggest that the anti-osteoporotic activity of matairesinol could arise from its anti-osteoclastogenic potential via p38/ERK-NFATc1 signaling, but not by way of anti-resorptive action.

Osteoclast differentiation; Matairesinol; MAP kinases; NFATc1