Quercetin prevents experimental glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis: a comparative study with alendronate

Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2013 May;91(5):380-5. doi: 10.1139/cjpp-2012-0190. Epub 2013 Jan 22.


Glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis (GIO) is the most common type of secondary osteoporosis. The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy of quercetin, a plant-derived flavonoid, with alendronate in the prevention of GIO. Fifty-six Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly distributed among 7 groups (8 rats per group) and treated for 6 weeks with one of the following: (i) normal saline; (ii) 40 mg methylprednisolone sodium succinate (MP)/kg body mass; (iii) MP + 40 μg alendronate/kg; (iv) MP + 50 mg quercetin/kg; (v) MP + 40 μg alendronate/kg + 50 mg quercetin/kg; (vi) MP + 150 mg quercetin/kg; and (vii) MP + 40 μg alendronate/kg + 150 mg quercetin/kg. MP and alendronate were injected subcutaneously and quercetin was administered by oral gavage 3 days a week. At the end of the study, femur breaking strength was significantly decreased as a consequence of MP injection. This decrease was completely compensated for in groups receiving 50 mg quercetin/kg plus alendronate, and 150 mg quercetin/kg with or without alendronate. Quercetin noticeably elevated osteocalcin as a bone formation marker, while alendronate did not show such an effect. In addition, administration of 150 mg quercetin/kg increased femoral trabecular and cortical thickness by 36% and 22%, respectively, compared with the MP-treated group. These data suggest that 150 mg quercetin/kg, alone or in combination with alendronate, can completely prevent GIO through its bone formation stimulatory effect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alendronate / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / pharmacology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Femur / drug effects
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Methylprednisolone Hemisuccinate / pharmacology
  • Osteogenesis / drug effects
  • Osteoporosis / blood
  • Osteoporosis / chemically induced
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quercetin / pharmacology*
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Biomarkers
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Methylprednisolone Hemisuccinate
  • Quercetin
  • Alendronate