Effects of berberine on differentiation and bone resorption of osteoclasts derived from rat bone marrow cells

Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Xue Bao. 2009 Apr;7(4):342-8. doi: 10.3736/jcim20090408.


Objective: To observe the effects of berberine on osteoclastic differentiation and bone resorption action in vitro, and to investigate the cellular mechanism of its inhibitory effects on bone resorption.

Methods: The multinucleated osteoclasts (MNCs) were derived by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 and dexamethasone from bone marrow cells in the coculture system with primary osteoblastic cells. The tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) staining and image analysis of bone resorption pit on dental slices were used to identify osteoclast. The activity of TRAP was measured by p-nitrophenyl sodium phosphate assay. The bone resorption pit area on the bone slices formed by osteoclasts was measured by computer image processing.

Results: At the concentrations of 0.1, 1 and 10 micromol/L, berberine dose-dependently suppressed the formation of TRAP-positive multinucleated cells, the TRAP activity and the osteoclastic bone resorption. The strongest inhibitory effect was exhibited at the concentration of 10 micromol/L, with the inhibiting rate of 60.45%, 42.12% and 72.69% respectively.

Conclusion: Berberine can decrease bone loss through inhibition of osteoclast formation, differentiation and bone resorption.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acid Phosphatase / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Berberine / pharmacology*
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology
  • Bone Marrow Cells / drug effects
  • Bone Resorption / metabolism*
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Osteoclasts / cytology
  • Osteoclasts / drug effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tartrate-Resistant Acid Phosphatase


  • Isoenzymes
  • Berberine
  • Acid Phosphatase
  • Tartrate-Resistant Acid Phosphatase