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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 315850, 12 pages
Research Article

Tetramethylpyrazine Enhances Vascularization and Prevents Osteonecrosis in Steroid-Treated Rats

1Institute of Chinese Materia Medica, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, No. 16, Nanxiaojie, Dongzhimennei, Beijing 100700, China
2School of Pharmacy, Jiangxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Nanchang 330004, China
3Wangjing Hospital, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing 100102, China

Received 2 December 2014; Revised 20 January 2015; Accepted 20 January 2015

Academic Editor: Magali Cucchiarini

Copyright © 2015 Yini Jiang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Steroid-induced osteonecrosis of the femoral head (steroid-induced ONFH) is an avascular necrosis disease of bone. Tetramethylpyrazine (TMP), with significant vascular protective properties, has been widely used for the treatments of ischemic neural disorders and cardiovascular diseases. However, its role in the treatment of steroid-induced ONFH has not been evaluated. In this study, our results showed that TMP significantly decreased the ratio of empty lacuna, adipose tissue area, and adipocyte perimeter in steroid-induced ONFH rats histopathologically. TMP also reduced the levels of serum lipid dramatically by haematological examination. According to the micro-CT quantification, TMP could improve the microstructure of the trabecular bone and increases bone mineral density in steroid-induced ONFH rats. Moreover, TMP significantly increased the vessel volume, vessel surface, percentage of vessel volume, and vessel thickness of the femoral heads by micro-CT. Interestingly, the downregulation of VEGF and FLK1 proteins in the sera and necrotic femoral heads could be reversed by TMP treatment, and this was true for their mRNA expressions in femoral heads. In conclusion, these findings suggest for the first time that TMP may prevent steroid-induced ONFH and also enhance femoral head vascularization by inhibiting the effect of steroid on VEGF/FLK1 signal pathway.