Berberine bioisostere Q8 compound stimulates osteoblast differentiation and functionin vitro
The Q8 compound is a unique derivative of berberine. The present study investigated the functional role of Q8 to evaluate its potential for use in bone regeneration, especially in osteoblast differentiation. The safe concentration of Q8 increased BMP4-induced alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity, and induced RNA expression of ALP, bone sialoprotein (BSP), and osteocalcin (OC). The activities of ALP-, BSP- and OC-luciferase reporters were also increased by Q8. During osteoblast differentiation, Q8 stabilized the Runx2 and Osterix protein abundance by blocking the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway, which in turn promoted Runx2 and Osterix induced transcriptional activity and subsequently increased the osteoblast differentiation. Meanwhile, depletion of Runx2 and Osterix markedly abolished the bone anabolic effect of Q8 on osteoblast differentiation. To evaluate the signal transduction pathway involved in the Q8-mediated regulation of Runx2 and Osterix, we examined the reporter assay using various kinase inhibitors. Treatment with a protein kinase A (PKA) inhibitor, H89 inhibited the Q8-mediated regulation of Runx2 and Osterix. Based on these findings, this study demonstrates that Q8 promotes the osteoblast differentiation by stabilization of Runx2/Osterix through the increased activation of PKA signaling. The enhancement of osteoblast function by Q8 may contribute to the prevention for osteoporosis.