Effect of deer antler extract on muscle differentiation and AICAR-induced muscle atrophy in C2C12 cells

Kyungae Jo1, Woo Young Jang1, Beom Sik Yun2, Jin Soo Kim2, Hyun-Sun Lee3, Yeok Boo Chang1, Hyung Joo Suh1,*
Author Information & Copyright
1Department of Integrated Biomedical and Life Sciences, Graduate School, Korea University, Seoul 02841, Korea.
2R&D center, Kwangdong Pharm Co., Ltd, Seoul 08381, Korea.
3Agency for Korea National Food Cluster, Iksan 54576, Korea.
*Corresponding Author: Hyung Joo Suh, Phone: +82-2-940-2764. E-mail:

© Copyright 2021 Korean Society for Food Science of Animal Resources. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Oct 08, 2020 ; Revised: Jan 13, 2021 ; Accepted: Apr 08, 2021

Published Online: Apr 14, 2021


The effect of deer antler extract on muscle differentiation and muscle atrophy were evaluated to minimize muscle loss following aging. Various deer antler extracts (HWE, hot water extract of deer antler; FE, hot water extract of fermented deer antler; ET, enzyme-assisted extract of deer antler; UE, extract prepared by ultrasonication of deer antler) were evaluated for their effect on muscle differentiation and inhibition of 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide ribonucleoside (AICAR)-induced muscle atrophy in C2C12 cells. To confirm the morphological changes caused by the effect of deer antler extracts on muscle differentiation, the length and thickness of myotubes were measured by Jenner-Giemsa staining. In addition, the expression levels of genes related to muscle differentiation and atrophy were confirmed through qRT-PCR. In the presence of antler extracts, the length and thickness of myotubes and MyoD1 and Myf5 gene expression were increased compared to those in the control group. Gene expression of AMPK, MyoD1, and myogenin, along with the muscle atrophy factors MuRF-1 and FoxO3a upon addition of deer antler extracts to muscle-atrophied C2C12 cells was determined by qRT-PCR after treatment with AICAR. The expression of MuRF-1 and FoxO3a decreased in the groups treated with antler extracts compared to that in the group treated with AICAR alone. In addition, gene expression of MyoD1 and myogenin in the muscle atrophy cell model was significantly increased compared that into the control group. Therefore, our findings indicate that deer antler extract can increase the expression of MyoD1, Myf5 and myogenin, inhibit muscle atrophy, and promote muscle differentiation.

Keywords: Deer antler; muscle differentiation; muscle atrophy; AICAR; C2C12 cells

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