Morinda citrifolia leaf extract enhances osteogenic differentiation through activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling.
Morinda citrifolia (Noni) leaf is an herbal medicine with application in the domestic treatment of a broad range of conditions, including bone fracture and luxation. However, the basic mechanism underlying the stimulation of osteogenic differentiation by Noni leaf extract remains poorly understood. This study aimed to examine the effect of this extract on osteogenic differentiation and the mechanism by which Noni leaf extract enhances osteogenic differentiation. Aqueous extract of Noni leaves was prepared, and rutin and kaempferol-3-O-rutinoside were identified to be two of its major components. C2C12 and human periodontal ligament (hPDL) cells were used to study the effect of Noni. Noni did not show cytotoxicity at a concentration range of 0.015%-1.0% (w/v%) and significantly enhanced the activity of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and expression levels of osteoblast differentiation markers, including Runx2, ALP, osterix, and osteocalcin, bone morphogenetic protein 2, Wnt3a, and β-catenin. In addition, Noni enhanced the matrix mineralization of hPDL cells. In the signaling pathways, Noni increased the phosphorylation levels of Akt and GSK3β and nuclear translocation and transcriptional activity of β-catenin, which were attenuated by the addition of Dkk-1, a Wnt inhibitor, or LY294002, a PI3K inhibitor. These results suggest that Noni leaf extract enhances osteogenic differentiation through the PI3K/Akt-dependent activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Noni leaf extract might be a novel alternative medicine for bone and periodontal regeneration in patients with periodontal diseases.