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Mol Cell Biochem. 2006 Jan;281(1-2):153-61.

The protective role of topical propolis on experimental keratitis via nitric oxide levels in rabbits.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, Mustafa Kemal University, Hatay, Turkey.


The aim of this study was to investigate antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties of propolis in the treatment of experimental Staphylococcus aureus keratitis. Twenty young New Zealand white rabbits were used in this experiment. Staphylococcus aureus were given by intrastromal injection to 16 rabbits and 4 rabbits were used as control group (Group 1). Group 2 was treated with phosphate-buffered solution drops; Group 3 was administered ethanolic extract of propolis drops; Group 4 received topical ciprofloxacin drops; Group 5 was treated with topical ciprofloxacin drops along with ethanolic extract of propolis drops. The eyes were examined by slit lamp to assess corneal opacity. And then, corneas were removed to determine nitric oxide (NO) levels and count bacteria. Corneas were also evaluated histologically. Corneal NO concentration in group 5, treated with a combination of propolis and ciprofloxacin was determined significantly lower (10.0+/- 1.8 micromol/g wet tissue) than in Group 4, treated with ciprofloxacin (24.0+/- 3.1 micromol/g wet tissue), from Group 3, treated with propolis (15.6+/- 1.8 micromol/g wet tissue), and treated with PBS (44.7+/- 7.8 micromol/g wet tissue). There were significantly fewer bacteria in eyes that received propolis plus ciprofloxacin than in eyes treated with ciprofloxacin (p = 0.0001) or propolis (p = 0.0001) or eyes treated with PBS (p = 0.0001). The light microscopic examination revealed that the control group showed normal corneal morphology. In the nontreated group, sections of the stromal infiltration revealed the presence of inflammatory cells, which were diffusely distributed (p < 0.05). Administrations of ciprofloxacin plus propolis resulted in a significantly reduced histological damage with fewer bacterial inoculation of the corneal stroma in comparison with the other groups (p < 0.05). Based on these findings, we suggest that ethanolic extract of propolis has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties for S. aureus keratitis in rabbits.

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