Brazilian green propolis protects against retinal damage in vitro and in vivo

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2006 Mar;3(1):71-7. doi: 10.1093/ecam/nek005.


Propolis, a honeybee product, has gained popularity as a food and alternative medicine. Its constituents have been shown to exert pharmacological (anticancer, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory) effects. We investigated whether Brazilian green propolis exerts neuroprotective effects in the retina in vitro and/or in vivo. In vitro, retinal damage was induced by 24 h hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) exposure, and cell viability was measured by Hoechst 33342 and YO-PRO-1 staining or by a resazurin-reduction assay. Propolis inhibited the neurotoxicity and apoptosis induced in cultured retinal ganglion cells (RGC-5, a rat ganglion cell line transformed using E1A virus) by 24 h H2O2 exposure. Propolis also inhibited the neurotoxicity induced in RGC-5 cultures by staurosporine. Regarding the possible underlying mechanism, in pig retina homogenates propolis protected against oxidative stress (lipid peroxidation), as also did trolox (water-soluble vitamin E). In mice in vivo, propolis (100 mg kg(-1); intraperitoneally administered four times) reduced the retinal damage (decrease in retinal ganglion cells and in thickness of inner plexiform layer) induced by intravitreal in vivo N-methyl-d-aspartate injection. These findings indicate that Brazilian green propolis has neuroprotective effects against retinal damage both in vitro and in vivo, and that a propolis-induced inhibition of oxidative stress may be partly responsible for these neuroprotective effects.