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J Pharm Pharmacol. 2015 Oct;67(10):1448-56. doi: 10.1111/jphp.12449. Epub 2015 Jul 21.

Brazilian green propolis induced apoptosis in human lung cancer A549 cells through mitochondrial-mediated pathway.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Biosciences Institute, UNESP, Botucatu, São Paulo, Brazil.
Laboratories of Biofarmaceuticals and Chemistries Productions (LABIOFAM), Havana, Cuba.
Tropical Medicine Institute Pedro Kouri, Havana, Cuba.



Propolis effect on the growth and apoptosis of human lung adenocarcinoma (A549 cells) was investigated as well as its mechanisms.


Cells were incubated with propolis for 72 h, and 3-(4,5- dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide and lactate dehydrogenase assays were employed to assess cell viability and the inhibitory concentration (IC). Apoptosis was detected by Acridine Orange/Ethidium Bromide and 4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole staining after 24 and 48 h of incubation with ¼ IC50 of propolis by testing the mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm) and the expression of apoptosis-related genes (p53, Caspase-3, Bax, Bcl-2, Bcl-XL , Noxa, Puma and p21) by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction.


Propolis displayed antiproliferative and cytotoxic effects on A549 cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner, but it did not suppress the growth of normal Vero cells. An enhanced apoptosis was seen in A549 propolis-treated cells after 48 h compared with the control cells. Propolis decreased mitochondrial membrane potential by overexpression of pro-apoptotic genes (Bax and Noxa) and reduction of the antiapoptotic gene Bcl-XL . The expression level of other genes remained unchanged (p53, Caspse-3 and Bax), whereas p21 expression was increased. Propolis induced caspase-independent apoptosis through a p53-independent mitochondrial pathway, and cell cycle arrest by upregulation of p21.


Although propolis induces apoptosis mainly by p53-independent manner, it may be induced by another pathway, and new insights may arise for preventing or treating lung cancer.


apoptosis; lung cancer; mitochondria pathway; propolis

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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