Inhibition of mammary carcinoma cell proliferation in vitro and tumor growth in vivo by bee venom

Toxicon. 2003 Jun;41(7):861-70. doi: 10.1016/s0041-0101(03)00045-x.


The possible tumor growth- and metastasis-inhibiting effects of bee venom in mice and in tumor cell cultures were studied. The tumor was a transplantable mammary carcinoma (MCa) of CBA mouse. Intravenous administration of bee venom to mice significantly reduced the number of metastases in the lung. However, subcutaneous administration of bee venom did not reduce the number of lung metastases, indicating that the antitumor effect of the venom could be highly dependent on the route of injection as well as close contact between the components of the venom and the tumor cells, as was shown by in vitro studies on MCa cells. We also observed variations in immunological parameter induced by bee venom. We proposed that bee venom has an indirect mechanism of tumor growth inhibition and promotion of tumor rejection that is based on stimulation of the local cellular immune responses in lymph nodes. Apoptosis, necrosis, and lysis of tumor cells are other possible mechanisms by which bee venom inhibits tumor growth.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bee Venoms / administration & dosage
  • Bee Venoms / pharmacology*
  • Bees*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Division / drug effects*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary
  • Lymph Nodes / drug effects
  • Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Organ Size
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Spleen / drug effects
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / drug effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Bee Venoms