Cytisine attenuates bone loss of ovariectomy mouse by preventing RANKL-induced osteoclastogenesis

J Cell Mol Med. 2020 Sep;24(17):10112-10127. doi: 10.1111/jcmm.15622. Epub 2020 Aug 13.


Postmenopausal Osteoporosis (PMOP) is oestrogen withdrawal characterized of much production and activation by osteoclast in the elderly female. Cytisine is a quinolizidine alkaloid that comes from seeds or other plants of the Leguminosae (Fabaceae) family. Cytisine has been shown several potential pharmacological functions. However, its effects on PMOP remain unknown. This study designed to explore whether Cytisine is able to suppress RANKL-induced osteoclastogenesis and prevent the bone loss induced by oestrogen deficiency in ovariectomized (OVX) mice. In this study, we investigated the effect of Cytisine on RAW 264.7 cells and bone marrow monocytes (BMMs) derived osteoclast culture system in vitro and observed the effect of Cytisine on ovariectomized (OVX) mice model to imitate postmenopausal osteoporosis in vivo. We found that Cytisine inhibited F-actin ring formation and tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) staining in dose-dependent ways, as well as bone resorption by pit formation assays. For molecular mechanism, Cytisine suppressed RANK-related trigger RANKL by phosphorylation JNK/ERK/p38-MAPK, IκBα/p65-NF-κB, and PI3K/AKT axis and significantly inhibited these signalling pathways. However, the suppression of PI3K-AKT-NFATc1 axis was rescued by AKT activator SC79. Meanwhile, Cytisine inhibited RANKL-induced RANK-TRAF6 association and RANKL-related gene and protein markers such as NFATc1, Cathepsin K, MMP-9 and TRAP. Our study indicated that Cytisine could suppress bone loss in OVX mouse through inhibited osteoclastogenesis. All data provide the evidence that Cytisine may be a promising agent in the treatment of osteoclast-related diseases such as osteoporosis.

Keywords: AKT-NFATc1; MAPK; NF-κB; SC79; cytisine; osteoclastogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Azocines / metabolism
  • Bone Resorption / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Osteoclasts / metabolism*
  • Osteogenesis / physiology*
  • Ovariectomy / methods
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Quinolizines / metabolism
  • RANK Ligand / metabolism*
  • RAW 264.7 Cells
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Alkaloids
  • Azocines
  • NF-kappa B
  • Quinolizines
  • RANK Ligand
  • Tnfsf11 protein, mouse
  • cytisine
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt