Targeting Sirt1, AMPK, Nrf2, CK2 and Soluble Guanylate Cyclase with Nutraceuticals: A Practical Strategy for Preserving Bone Mass

Mark F. McCarty*, Lidianys Lewis Lujan, Simon Iloki Assanga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


There is a vast pre-clinical literature suggesting that certain nutraceuticals have the potential to aid the preservation of bone mass in the context of estrogen withdrawal, glucocorticoid treatment, chronic inflammation, or aging. In an effort to bring some logical clarity to these findings, the signaling pathways regulating osteoblast, osteocyte, and osteoclast induction, activity, and survival are briefly reviewed in the present study. The focus is placed on the following factors: the mechanisms that induce and activate the RUNX2 transcription factor, a key driver of osteoblast differentiation and function; the promotion of autophagy and prevention of apoptosis in osteo- blasts/osteoclasts; and the induction and activation of NFATc1, which promotes the expression of many proteins required for osteoclast-mediated osteolysis. This analysis suggests that the activation of sirtuin 1 (Sirt1), AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), the Nrf2 transcription factor, and soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) can be expected to aid the maintenance of bone mass, whereas the inhibition of the serine kinase CK2 should also be protective in this regard. Fortuitously, nutraceuticals are available to address each of these targets. Sirt1 activation can be promoted with ferulic acid, N1-methylnicotinamide, melatonin, nicotinamide riboside, glucosamine, and thymo- quinone. Berberine, such as the drug metformin, is a clinically useful activator of AMPK. Many agents, including lipoic acid, melatonin, thymoquinone, astaxanthin, and crucifera-derived sul- foraphane, can promote Nrf2 activity. Pharmacological doses of biotin can directly stimulate sGC. Additionally, certain flavonols, notably quercetin, can inhibit CK2 in high nanomolar concentrations that may be clinically relevant. Many, though not all, of these agents have shown favorable effects on bone density and structure in rodent models of bone loss. Complex nutraceutical regimens providing a selection of these nutraceuticals in clinically meaningful doses may have an important potential for preserving bone health. Concurrent supplementation with taurine, N-acetylcysteine, vitamins D and K2, and minerals, including magnesium, zinc, and manganese, plus a diet naturally high in potassium, may also be helpful in this regard.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4776
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 May 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • AMPK
  • NFATc1
  • Nrf2
  • RUNX2
  • Sirt1
  • nutraceuticals
  • osteoblasts
  • osteoclasts
  • osteoporosis
  • soluble guanylate cyclase


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