Stimulation of human osteoblast differentiation and function by ipriflavone and its metabolites

S. L. Cheng, S. F. Zhang, T. L. Nelson, P. M. Warlow, R. Civitelli

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Ipriflavone (IP), an isoflavone derivative, has been shown to interfere with bone remodeling by inhibiting bone resorption and perhaps stimulating bone formation. In this study, we have analyzed the effect of IP and its metabolites on the differentiation and function of human osteoblastic cells. Bone marrow stromal osteoprogenitor cells (BMC) and trabecular bone osteoblasts (HOB) were isolated from human donors. The former can be induced to differentiate by treatment with dexamethasone, whereas the latter represent a more differentiated osteoblast. Incubation of BMC with metabolite III (10-5 M) for 1 week induced modest but significant changes of alkaline phosphatase activity. Though both IP and metabolite III stimulated the expression of bone sialoprotein mRNA, a protein involved in cell attachment to the matrix, only metabolite III increased the steady-state level of decorin mRNA, a collagen fibrillogenesis-regulating proteoglycan. Metabolites III and V, but not the other isoflavones, increased the expression of type I collagen mRNA in HOB, whereas no detectable changes were observed in BMC cells with any of the experimental compounds. In HOB, an increased abundance of osteopontin and bone sialoprotein mRNA were also obtained after 1-week treatment with IP or metabolite V. No appreciable effects of IP or its metabolites were seen on osteocalcin expression and synthesis by either cell type. Finally, IP consistently increased the amount of 45Ca incorporated into the cell layer by BMC, and stimulated mineralization of both BMC and HOB, assessed by von Kossa staining. Thus, IP and its metabolites regulate the differentiation and biosynthetic properties of human bone-forming cells by enhancing the expression of some important matrix proteins and facilitating the mineralization process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-362
Number of pages7
JournalCalcified Tissue International
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 1994


  • Calcification
  • Cell differentiation
  • Collagen
  • Matrix proteins
  • Osteoblasts


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