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Novel Akt activator SC-79 is a potential treatment for alcohol-induced osteonecrosis of the femoral head

Alcohol is a leading risk factor for osteonecrosis of the femoral head (ONFH). We explored the molecular mechanisms underlying alcohol-induced ONFH and investigated the protective effect of the novel Akt activator SC-79 against this disease. We found that ethanol inhibited expression of the osteogenic genes RUNX2 and OCN, downregulated osteogenic differentiation, impaired the recruitment of Akt to the plasma membrane, and suppressed Akt phosphorylation at Ser473, thereby inhibiting the Akt/GSK3β/β-catenin signaling pathway in bone mesenchymal stem cells. To assess SC-79's ability to counteract the inhibitory effect of ethanol on Akt-Ser73 phosphorylation, we performed micro-computerized tomography and immunofluorescent staining of osteopontin, osteocalcin and collagen type 1 in a rat model of alcohol-induced ONFH. We found that SC-79 injections inhibited alcohol-induced osteonecrosis. These results show that alcohol-induced ONFH is associated with suppression of p-Akt-Ser473 in the Akt/GSK3β/β-catenin signaling pathway in bone mesenchymal stem cells. We propose that SC-79 treatment to rescue Akt activation could be tested in the clinic as a potential therapeutic approach to preventing the development of alcohol-induced ONFH.

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