Yu AX[1,2], Xu ML[1,2], Yao P[1,2], Kwan KK[1,2], Liu YX, Duan R[1,2], Dong TT[1,2], Ko KM, Tsim KW[1,2]
 Shenzhen Key Laboratory of Edible and Medicinal Bioresources, HKUST Shenzhen Research Institute, Shenzhen, China
 Division of Life Science, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong, China
Corylin is a naturally occurring flavonoid isolated from the fruit of Psoralea corylifolia L. (Fabaceae), which is a Chinese medicinal herb in treating osteoporosis. Although a variety of pharmacological activities of corylin have been reported, its osteogenic action and the underlying mechanism in bone development remain unclear. In the present study, the involvement of bone-specific genes in corylininduced differentiated osteoblasts was analyzed by RT-PCR, promoter-reporter assay, and Western blotting. In cultured osteoblasts, corylin-induced cell differentiation and mineralization, as well as increased the expressions of vital biological markers for osteogenesis, such as Runx2, Osterix, Col1, and ALP. Corylin was proposed to have dual pathways in triggering the osteoblastic differentiation. First, the osteogenic function of corylin acted through the activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling. The nuclear translocation of β-catenin of cultured osteoblasts, as determined by flow cytometry and confocal microscopy, was triggered by applied corylin, and which was blocked by DKK-1, an inhibitor of Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Second, the application of corylin-induced estrogenic response in a dose-dependent manner, and which was blocked by ICI 182 780, an antagonist of estrogen receptor. Furthermore, the activation of Runx2 promoter by corylin was abolished by both DKK-1 and ICI 182,780, indicating that the corylin exhibited its osteogenic effect via estrogen and Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathways. In addition, corylin regulated the metabolic profiles, as well as the membrane potential of mitochondria, in cultured osteoblasts. Corylin also stimulated the osteogenesis in bone micromass derived from mesenchymal progenitor cells. This study demonstrated the osteogenic activities of corylin in osteoblasts and micromass, suggesting that corylin has the potential to be developed as a novel pro-osteogenic agent in targeting for the treatment of osteoblast-mediated osteoporosis.