The soybean isoflavone genistein induces differentiation of MG63 human osteosarcoma osteoblasts

C. Morris, J. Thorpe, L. Ambrosio, Matteo Santin

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A soybean-rich diet was shown to reduce the incidence of osteoporosis in Eastern countries; its effect on bone metabolism was ascribed to the action of the soybean isoflavones such as genistein. Although many studies have shown isoflavone-induced osteoblast differentiation, its preventative action on bone mass loss has not been clarified. Here, the osteogenetic effects of genistein on human cell line MG63 osteoblasts were elucidated using a variety of approaches. In particular, phalloidin-rhodamine staining revealed that genistein-treated osteoblasts possessed a more organized cytoskeleton, and genistein's inhibitory effect upon cell proliferation was associated with exposure of phosphatidylserines on the external plasmalemma surface. Although this phosphatidylserine exposure is considered a typical apoptotic marker, scanning and transmission electron microscopy revealed that genistein-treated osteoblasts released matrix vesicles and showed no evidence of chromatin condensation. Assays, stainings, and scanning electron microscopy showed that genistein-treated osteoblasts synthesized relatively high levels of collagen and alkaline phosphatase and, even in a nonosteogenic growth medium, formed mineralized bone noduli. A clear pattern of genistein-induced osteoblast activation therefore emerges, in which all of the essential components required for the rapid production of mineralized bone extracellular matrix are stimulated by this soybean isoflavone.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1166-1170
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2006


  • soybean isoflavones
  • genistein
  • osteoblast differentiation
  • bone formation
  • mineralization


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