Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) as a pro-osteogenic agent to enhance osteogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells from human bone marrow: an in vitro study

The proliferation and osteogenic capacity of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) needs to be improved for their use in cell-based therapy for osteoporosis. (−)-Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), one of the green tea catechins, has been widely investigated in studies of osteoblasts and osteoclasts. However, no consensus on its role as an osteogenic inducer has been reached, possibly because of the various types of cell lines examined and the range of concentrations of EGCG used. In this study, the osteogenic effects of EGCG are studied in primary human bone-marrow-derived MSCs (hBMSCs) by detecting cell proliferation, alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity and the expression of relevant osteogenic markers. Our results show that EGCG has a strong stimulatory effect on hBMSCs developing towards the osteogenic lineage, especially at a concentration of 5 μM, as evidenced by an increased ALP activity, the up-regulated expression of osteogenic genes and the formation of bone-like nodules. Further exploration has indicated that EGCG directes osteogenic differentiation via the continuous up-regulation of Runx2. The underlying mechanism might involve EGCG affects on osteogenic differentiation through the modulation of bone morphogenetic protein-2 expression. EGCG has also been found to promote the proliferation of hBMSCs in a dose-dependent manner. This might be associated with its antioxidative effect leading to favorable amounts of reactive oxygen species in the cellular environment. Our study thus indicates that EGCG can be used as a pro-osteogenic agent for the stem-cell-based therapy of osteoporosis.