Oleanolic Acid and Ursolic Acid Improve Bone Properties and Calcium Balance and Modulate Vitamin D Metabolism in Aged Female Rats

Sisi Cao, Xue Lian Tian, Wen Xuan Yu, Li Ping Zhou, Xiao Li Dong, Murray J. Favus, Man Sau Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Oleanolic acid (OA) and ursolic acid (UA) are the major chemical constituents in Fructus Ligustri Lucidi (FLL), a kidney-tonifying Chinese herb that is previously shown to improve bone properties and enhance calcium balance in aged female rats. The present study was designed to study if OA and UA act as the active ingredients in FLL to exert the positive effects on bone and mineral metabolism in aged rats. Aged (13-month-old) Sprague-Dawley female rats were randomly assigned to four groups with oral administration of drug or vehicle treatment for 12 weeks: medium calcium diet (MCD, 0.6% calcium), high calcium diet (HCD, 1.2% calcium), MCD + FLL (700 mg/kg/day), MCD + OA (23.6 mg/kg/day) + UA (8.6 mg/kg/day). A group of mature (3-month-old) female rats fed with MCD was included as positive control. The results demonstrated that FLL and OA+UA increased bone mineral density and improved microarchitectural properties of aged female rats. The osteoprotective effects of FLL and OA+UA might be, at least in part, associated with their actions on enhancing calcium balance and suppressing age-induced secondary hyperparathyroidism in aged female rats. FLL and OA+UA also significantly induced renal CYP27B1 protein expression and OA+UA treatment decreased CYP24A1 mRNA and protein expressions in aged female rats. In addition, FLL and OA+UA significantly increased the promoter activity, mRNA and protein expressions of renal CYP27B1 in vitro in human proximal tubule HKC-8 cells. The present findings suggest that OA+UA can be regarded as the active ingredients of FLL and might be a potential drug candidate for prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberPMID: 30564129
JournalFrontiers in Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2018


  • aged rats
  • bone protection
  • calcium balance
  • oleanolic acid
  • ursolic acid
  • vitamin D metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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