Costunolide increases osteoblast differentiation via ATF4-dependent HO-1 expression in C3H10T1/2 cells

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Aims:Costunolide is a sesquiterpene lactones used in many herbal medicines, with well-established anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant functions modulating endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress pathways, and which promotes the expression of anti-oxidant genes. The aim of this study is to investigate whether costunolide is involved in osteoblast differentiation and, determine the mechanisms of differentiation in mesenchymal stem cells.Main methods:The cytotoxicity of costunolide was identified using the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. The mRNA and protein expression levels of osteogenic genes were determined by RT-PCR and Western blot analysis. Alkaline phosphate (ALP) staining and Alizarin red S (ARS) staining were performed to evaluate ALP activity and matrix mineralization. Transcriptional activity was detected using a luciferase reporter assay.Key findings:In this study, we determined that costunolide increased the expression of distal-less homeobox 5 (Dlx5), runt-related transcription factor 2 (Runx2), ALP, and osteocalcin (OC) in C3H10T 1/2 cells. Furthermore, costunolide increased ALP activity and matrix mineralization. Interestingly, costunolide increased ER stress by Bip, activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) and C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP). However, it did not exert effects on expression of activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6). ATF4 activation has a protective role in oxidative stress, and its transcription induces anti-oxidant genes in cells. Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) is a major anti-oxidant enzyme, and is regulated by ATF4. We showed that costunolide treatment increased HO-1 expression. Furthermore, the HO-1 inhibitor, Sn(IV) Protoporphyrin IX dichloride (SnPP) was blocked costunolide-induced Runx2 expression.Significance:Our results revealed that costunolide-induced osteoblast differentiation is regulated by ATF4-dependent HO-1 expression.

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