Vanillic acid exerts oestrogen-like activities in osteoblast-like UMR 106 cells through MAP kinase (MEK/ERK)-mediated ER signaling pathway

Hui Hui Xiao, Quan Gui Gao, Yan Zhang, Ka Chung Wong, Yi Dai, Xin Sheng Yao, Man Sau Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Sambucus williamsii Hance (SWH) has been used for treatment of bone and joint disease in China for thousands of years. Our previous study showed that SWH extract and its bioactive fraction could effectively prevent oestrogen-deficiency induced bone loss in ovariectomized mice. The present study aimed to study the bone protective effects of vanillic acid (VA), a phenolic acid isolated from the bioactive fraction of SWH, and to characterize the signaling pathways that mediated its actions in rat osteoblast-like UMR 106 cells. VA significantly stimulated proliferation, alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activities as well as significantly altered the mRNA expression of genes involved in osteoblast functions and osteoclastogenesis in UMR 106 cells. Co-treatment of UMR 106 cells with 10-6M ICI182,780 (a specific oestrogen receptor (ER) antagonist) abolished the stimulatory effects of VA on osteoblast proliferation and ALP activities, suggesting the role of ER in mediating its actions. However, VA (10-12to 10-6M) failed to bind to ERα or ERβ and did not activate oestrogen response element (ERE)-luciferase activities via ERα or ERβ in UMR 106 cells. In contrast, 10-10and 10-8M of VA induced the phosphorylation of MEK 1/2, ERK1/2 and ERα at Ser118 residue in UMR 106 cells, suggesting that MAP kinase-mediated pathway is involved in mediating its actions. Taken together, our results indicated that VA is a bioactive compound in SWH that exerts stimulatory effects in osteoblast-like cells via non-genomic, but not classical, ER signaling pathway.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)382-391
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue numberPART B
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • MAP kinase mediated pathway
  • Osteoblast
  • Phenolic acid
  • Sambucus williamsii Hance
  • Vanillic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology

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