Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common degenerative joint diseases in the world, characterized primarily by the progressive degradation of articular cartilage. Accumulating evidence has shown that Morusin, a flavonoid derived from the root bark of Morus alba (mulberry) plants, exerts unique protective properties in several diseases. However, its effects on OA, specifically, have not yet been characterized.
In this study, we evaluated the anti-inflammatory effect of Morusin on mouse chondrocytes and its underlying mechanism in vitro. In addition, the protective effect of Morusin on destabilization of the medial meniscus (DMM) model was also explored in vivo.
In vitro, IL-1β-induced activation of inflammatory factors (TNF-α, IL-6, INOS and COX2) was dramatically suppressed by Morusin. Further, Morusin treatment inhibited the expression of ADAMTS5 and metalloproteinase (MMPs), both of which regulate extracellular matrix degradation. Morusin also decreased IL-1β-induced p65 phosphorylation and IκBα degradation. In vivo, degradation of the articular cartilage following surgical DMM, which mimicked OA pathology, was abrogated following treatment with Morusin, thus demonstrating a protective effect in the DMM model.