Am J Transl Res. 2017 Jul 15;9(7):3517-3527.

Preventive effects of kudzu root on bone loss and cartilage degradation in ovariectomized rats

Yun-yun Luo1,2,  Shuang Zheng1, Yu-Jia Ding1, Yue-Qin Dai1, Yi Zhou1, Rui-Feng Xiang1, Anne C Bay-Jensen2, Morten A Karsdal2, Per Qvist2, and Qin-long Zheng1

1Nordic Bioscience (Beijing) Ltd., Beijing, China; 2Nordic Bioscience A/S, Herlev, Denmark

Correspondence should be addressed to: Qin-long Zheng, Nordic Bioscience (Beijing) Ltd., Beijing, China. Phone: +86 13671317627, Email:




To screen Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbs/roots extracts in ovariectomized (OVX) rats to determine their utility for preventing bone loss and cartilage degradation.


Six-month-old female Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats each were subjected to OVX or sham surgery and treated orally once daily with herbal extracts or vehicle. Body weight was recorded weekly and blood samples were collected from fasting animals at different time points. Biochemical markers of bone resorption and cartilage degradation were analyzed. Changes in bone mineral density and calcium content were determined as well.


  1. Out of 50 TCM herbs/roots extracts, only kudzu extract demonstrated consistent joint protective effects.
  2. OVX resulted in a marked increase in serum CTX-I (P < 0.0001) and CTX-II (P < 0.001), which could be effectively reversed by 17β-estradiol supplementation (P < 0.0001). Treatment with the highest dosage of kudzu counteracted similarly serum CTX-I (P < 0.001) and CTX-II level (P < 0.0001) after 3 weeks of treatment. Kudzu caused 12.4% and 10.7% vehicle-corrected weight reduction for two highest doses (1.890g/, 0.630g/ respectively at the end of the experiment.
  3. Compared to vehicle, the highest dosage of kudzu induced significant increase in Bone Mineral Density (BMD) in center femoral and femoral telocentric end, and calcium content (P<0.05).


Kudzu exerts direct effects on articular cartilage in the OVX rat and can effectively prevent the acceleration of cartilage degradation induced by ovariectomy. Further studies are needed to investigate the potential effects of kudzu extract in postmenopausal women.



The importance of this study is two-fold: first, our findings suggest that kudzu can confer chondroprotective effects, as indicated by protection against bone and type II collagen loss in ovariectomized rats. Second, the results suggest that kudzu has demonstrated positive effects on metabolic health (cause a weight reduction). Therefore, kudzu may represent a possible treatment for subchondral bone turnover-driven osteoarthritis with high body mass index.