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Pharmacol Ther. 2007 Aug;115(2):246-70. Epub 2007 May 6.

Therapeutic application of anti-arthritis, pain-releasing, and anti-cancer effects of bee venom and its constituent compounds.

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  • 1College of Pharmacy and CBITRC, Chungbuk National University, 48 Gaesin-dong, Heungduk-gu, Cheongju, Chungbuk 361-763, Korea.

Abstract

Bee venom (BV) therapy (BVT), the therapeutic application of BV, has been used in traditional medicine to treat diseases, such as arthritis, rheumatism, pain, cancerous tumors, and skin diseases. BV contains a variety of peptides, including melittin, apamin, adolapin, the mast-cell-degranulating (MCD) peptide, enzymes (i.e., phospholipase [PL] A(2)), biologically active amines (i.e., histamine and epinephrine), and nonpeptide components which have a variety of pharmaceutical properties. BV has been reported to have anti-arthritis effects in several arthritis models. Melittin, a major peptide component of BV, has anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritis properties, and its inhibitory activity on nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB) may be essential for the effects of BV. The anti-nociceptive effects of BV have also been demonstrated in thermal, visceral, and inflammatory pain models. Apcupoint stimulation (apipuncture) therapy into subcutaneous region may be important in the BV-induced anti-nociceptive effects. Multiple mechanisms, such as activation of the central and spinal opiod receptor, and alpha(2)-adrenergic activity, as well as activation of the descending serotonergic pathway have been suggested. The inhibition of c-Fos expression in the spinal cord by BV apipuncture in several nociceptive models is also reported to be a possible mechanism. BV also has anti-cancer activity. The cell cytotoxic effects through the activation of PLA(2) by melittin have been suggested to be the critical mechanism for the anti-cancer activity of BV. The conjugation of cell lytic peptide (melittin) with hormone receptors and gene therapy carrying melittin can be useful as a novel targeted therapy for some types of cancer, such as prostate and breast cancer.

PMID:
17555825
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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