Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

, Volume 407, Issue 1–2, pp 41–50 | Cite as

Apigenin promotes osteogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells through JNK and p38 MAPK pathways

  • Xue Zhang
  • Chenhui Zhou
  • Xuan Zha
  • Zhoumei Xu
  • Li Li
  • Yuyu Liu
  • Liangliang Xu
  • Liao Cui
  • Daohua XuEmail author
  • Baohua ZhuEmail author


Apigenin is a plant-derived flavonoid and has been reported to prevent bone loss in ovariectomized mice, but the role of apigenin on osteogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) has not been reported. In the present study, the effect of apigenin on osteogenic differentiation of hMSCs was explored. Our results showed that apigenin treatment significantly increased alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity and mineralization in hMSCs. RT-PCR revealed that apigenin markedly up-regulated the mRNA expression of osteopontin (OPN) and the transcription factors runt-related transcription factor 2 (Runx2). The expression of Runx2 and osterix (OSX) proteins were also increased in hMSCs differentiating into osteoblasts after treatment with apigenin. Furthermore, we investigated the signaling pathways responsible for osteogenic differentiation of apigenin in hMSCs. We found that apigenin treatment significantly increased the levels of p-JNK, p-p38 in hMSCs and addition of the inhibitors of JNK (SP600125) or p38 MAPK (SB203580) eliminated the stimulating effects of apigenin. In addition, addition of SP600125 or SB203580 also blocked apigenin-induced ALP activity, OPN, Runx2, and OSX expression and meanwhile inhibited bone nodule formation. Taken together, these findings suggest apigenin promotes the osteogenesis of hMSCs through activation of JNK and p38 MAPK signal pathways which leads to Runx2 and OSX expressions to induce the formation of bone nodule.


Apigenin Mesenchymal stem cell Osteogenesis Osteoporosis JNK and p38 MAPK signaling pathway 



We thank financial support from National Natural Science Foundation of China (30772768, 81102450), Science and Technology Planning Project of Guangdong Province (2013B031800013); Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (2014A030313534); Science and Technology Planning Project for Medical Treatment and Public Health of Dongguan (2014105101294); and Initiating Fund of Scientific Research for Doctors of Guangdong Medical University (B2013016).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xue Zhang
    • 1
  • Chenhui Zhou
    • 2
  • Xuan Zha
    • 1
  • Zhoumei Xu
    • 1
  • Li Li
    • 3
  • Yuyu Liu
    • 1
  • Liangliang Xu
    • 4
  • Liao Cui
    • 1
  • Daohua Xu
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Baohua Zhu
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PharmacologyGuangdong Medical UniversityDongguanChina
  2. 2.School of NursingGuangdong Medical UniversityDongguanChina
  3. 3.Institution of Traditional Chinese Medicine and New Pharmacy DevelopmentGuangdong Medical UniversityDongguanChina
  4. 4.Department of Orthopaedics & TraumatologyThe Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales HospitalHong KongChina
  5. 5.The Second Clinical SchoolGuangdong Medical UniversityDongguanChina

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