Annatto-derived tocotrienol (AnTT) has been shown to improve bone formation in animal models of osteoporosis and promote differentiation of pre-osteoblastic cells. However, the mechanism of action of AnTT in achieving these effects is unclear. This study aims to investigate the mechanism of action of AnTT on MC3T3-E1 pre-osteoblasts via the mevalonate pathway.
Murine pre-osteoblastic cells, MC3T3-E1, were cultured with the density of 1 × 10 4 cells/mL and treated with 4 concentrations of AnTT (0.001–1 µg/mL). Expression of HMG-CoA reductase (HMGR) gene was carried out using qPCR after treatment with AnTT for 21 days. RhoA activation and bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) were measured using immunoassay after 9 and 15 days of AnTT treatment. Lovastatin was used as the positive control. Mineralized nodules were detected using Von Kossa staining after 21 days of AnTT treatment.
The results showed that HMGR was up-regulated in the lovastatin group on day 9 and 21 compared to the control. Lovastatin also inhibited RhoA activation (day 9 and 15) and increased BMP-2 protein (day 15). On the other hand, AnTT at 0.001 μg/mL (day 3) and 0.1 μg/mL (day 21) significantly down-regulated HMGR gene expression compared to the control. On day 21, HMGR gene expression was significantly reduced in all groups compared to day 15. AnTT at 0.1 μg/mL significantly decreased RhoA activation on day 9 compared to the control. AnTT at 1 μg/mL significantly increased BMP-2 protein on day 15 compared to the control (P<0.05). Mineralized calcium nodules were more abundant in AnTT treated groups compared to the control on day 21.