Objectives Propolis is a honeybee product used extensively in traditional medicine for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and anticancer effects. Propolis exhibits a broad spectrum of biological activities because it is a complex mixture of natural substances. In this review, the antitumour effects of propolis extracts and its constituents (e.g. flavonoids, terpenes and caffeic acid phenethyl ester) are discussed. Key findings The effect of propolis on experimental carcinogenesis is discussed, as well as its possible mechanisms of action against tumours, involving apoptosis, cell cycle arrest and interference on metabolic pathways. Propolis seems to be efficient against different tumour cells both in vitro and in vivo, which suggests its potential in the development of new anticancer drugs. Summary Propolis extracts may be important economically and would allow a relatively inexpensive cancer treatment. Preclinical investigations are needed to further elucidate the benefits of propolis and its antitumour properties.
Propolis is a bee product and its immunomodulatory action has been the subject of intense investigation lately. The recent discovery and characterization of the family of Toll-like receptors (TLR) have triggered a great deal of interest in the field of innate immunity due to their crucial role in microbial recognition and development of the adaptive immune response. This work aimed to evaluate propolis's effect on TLR-2 and TLR-4 expression and on the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1beta and IL-6). Male BALB/c mice were treated with propolis (200 mg/kg) for three consecutive days, and TLR-2 and TLR-4 expression as well as IL-1beta and IL-6 production were assessed in peritoneal macrophages and spleen cells. Basal IL-1beta production and TLR-2 and TLR-4 expression were increased in peritoneal macrophages of propolis-treated mice. TLR-2 and TLR-4 expression and IL-1beta and IL-6 production were also upregulated in the spleen cells of propolis-treated mice. One may conclude that propolis activated the initial steps of the immune response by upregulating TLRs expression and the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in mice, modulating the mechanisms of the innate immunity.
Clove exerted immunomodulatory/anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting LPS action. A possible mechanism of action probably involved the suppression of the nuclear factor-κB pathway by eugenol, since it was the major compound found in clove extract.
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