Effect of Quercetin on Dexamethasone-Induced C2C12 Skeletal Muscle Cell Injury

Molecules. 2020 Jul 17;25(14):3267. doi: 10.3390/molecules25143267.


Glucocorticoids are widely used anti-inflammatory drugs in clinical settings. However, they can induce skeletal muscle atrophy by reducing fiber cross-sectional area and myofibrillar protein content. Studies have proven that antioxidants can improve glucocorticoid-induced skeletal muscle atrophy. Quercetin is a potent antioxidant flavonoid widely distributed in fruits and vegetables and has shown protective effects against dexamethasone-induced skeletal muscle atrophy. In this study, we demonstrated that dexamethasone significantly inhibited cell growth and induced cell apoptosis by stimulating hydroxyl free radical production in C2C12 skeletal muscle cells. Our results evidenced that quercetin increased C2C12 skeletal cell viability and exerted antiapoptotic effects on dexamethasone-treated C2C12 cells by regulating mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm) and reducing oxidative species. Quercetin can protect against dexamethasone-induced muscle atrophy by regulating the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio at the protein level and abnormal ΔΨm, which leads to the suppression of apoptosis.

Keywords: C2C12 skeletal muscle cells; antioxidant; apoptosis; dexamethasone; mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm); quercetin.

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Dexamethasone / toxicity
  • Flavonoids / chemistry
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology
  • Glucocorticoids / chemistry
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / injuries
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscular Atrophy / chemically induced
  • Muscular Atrophy / drug therapy*
  • Muscular Atrophy / pathology
  • Quercetin / pharmacology*


  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Dexamethasone
  • Quercetin