Effects of Apis mellifera propolis on the activities of streptococcal glucosyltransferases in solution and adsorbed onto saliva-coated hydroxyapatite

Caries Res. Sep-Oct 2000;34(5):418-26. doi: 10.1159/000016617.


Propolis, a resinous hive product collected by Apis mellifera bees, has been used for thousands of years in folk medicine. Ethanolic extracts of propolis (EEP) have been shown to inhibit the activity of a mixture of crude glucosyltransferase (Gtf) enzymes in solution. These enzymes synthesize glucans from sucrose, which are important for the formation of pathogenic dental plaque. In the present study, the effects of propolis from two different regions of Brazil on the activity of separate, purified Gtf enzymes in solution and on the surface of saliva-coated hydroxyapatite (sHA) beads were evaluated. The EEP from Minas Gerais (MG; Southeastern Brazil) and Rio Grande do Sul (RS; Southern Brazil) were tested for their ability to inhibit the enzymes GtfB (synthesis of insoluble glucan), GtfC (insoluble/soluble glucan) and GtfD (soluble glucan). The effects of propolis on Gtf from Streptococcus sanguis (soluble glucan synthesis) was also explored. The EEP from both regions effectively inhibited the activity of all Gtfs in solution (75-95%) and on the surface of sHA beads (45-95%) at concentrations between 0.75 and 3.0 mg of propolis/ml. However, the two samples of propolis showed different levels of inhibition on each of the enzymes tested. In general, EEP RS demonstrated a significantly higher inhibitory activity on GtfB and C activities (both solution and surface assays) than EEP MG at concentrations between 0.047 and 0.187 mg/ml (p<0.05). EEP MG, on the other hand, exhibited a greater inhibitory effect on the activities of surface GtfD (at 0.375, 0.75 and 1.5 mg/ml) and S. sanguis Gtf (at 1.5 and 3.0 mg/ml; p<0.05). These data indicate that EEP is a potent inhibitor of Gtf enzymes in solution and adsorbed on an experimental pellicle; however, its effect on Gtf activity is variable depending on the geographical origin of the propolis samples. There is a need to identify the active compounds of propolis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Brazil
  • Dental Pellicle
  • Durapatite
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Glycosyltransferases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Humans
  • Propolis / chemistry
  • Propolis / pharmacology*
  • Saliva / enzymology
  • Species Specificity
  • Streptococcus sanguis / enzymology*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Propolis
  • Durapatite
  • Glycosyltransferases