Bone homeostasis is maintained by a balance between bone resorption by osteoclasts and bone formation by osteoblasts. Osteoporosis occurs when osteoclast activity surpasses osteoblast activity. Pro-inflammatory cytokines stimulate osteoclast differentiation and activity by increasing production of macrophage-colony stimulating factor and receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL). In this study, we investigated whether Magnoliae Flos (MF), one of the most commonly used Chinese medicinal herbs for managing rhinitis, sinusitis and headache, could effectively inhibit osteoporosis. In ovariectomized (OVX) mice compared to sham mice, the body weight increased and serum levels of alkaline phosphatase (ALP), tartrate resistant acid phosphatase 5b, calcium, and osteocalcin were significantly elevated. However, orally administrated MF extract substantially inhibited the increased body weight and serum levels of bone turnover markers, without any evidence of tissue toxicity. MF extract treatment significantly reversed the morphometric parameters of ovariectomy-induced bone loss, including trabecular bone volume, thickness, number, separation, and bone density, to almost the same levels of the sham mice. Furthermore, MF extract reduced the RANKL-mediated osteoclast differentiation and bone resorption by inhibiting the activities of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and cathepsin K in mouse bone marrow macrophages. MF extract appeared to increase ALP activity in murine osteoblastic cells. Taken together, MF extract may be a beneficial supplement for the blockade of osteoporosis progression, particularly for the management of postmenopausal osteoporosis.
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