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Am J Chin Med. 2014 Sep 1:1-14. [Epub ahead of print]

Melittin Inhibits TGF-β-Induced Pro-Fibrotic Gene Expression Through the Suppression of the TGFβRII-Smad, ERK1/2 and JNK-Mediated Signaling Pathway.

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  • 1Research Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Department of Medicine, Catholic University of Daegu School of Medicine, Daegu 705-718, Republic of Korea.


Renal fibrosis is characterized by the excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins such as type I collagen, fibronectin, and by the increased expression of PAI-1. This study evaluated the anti-fibrotic effect of bee venom and its major compounds (melittin and apamin) on TGF-β-induced pro-fibrotic gene expression. Bee venom and melittin significantly suppressed type I collagen, fibronectin, and PAI-1 protein expression in the TGF-β-treated kidney fibroblast. However, apamin only inhibited the expression of fibronectin and type I collagen. These results indicated that the inhibitory effects of bee venom on TGF-β-induced pro-fibrotic gene expression are caused by melittin. Moreover, we attempted to elucidate mechanisms underlying the anti-fibrotic effect of melittin. Melittin dramatically inhibited the phosphorylation of TGFβRII and Smad2/3. Also, melittin inhibited the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and JNK, but not the phosphorylation of PI3K, Akt, and p38. These results suggested that melittin inhibits TGF-β-induced pro-fibrotic genes expression through the suppression of TGFβR-Smad2/3, ERK1/2, and JNK phosphorylation, and melittin can be used as a clinical drug for the treatment of fibrosis associated with renal diseases.


Bee Venom; Melittin; Pro-Fibrotic Factor; Renal Fibrosis; Transforming Growth Factor-β

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