Propolis extracts exhibit an immunoregulatory activity in an OVA-sensitized airway inflammatory animal model

Int Immunopharmacol. 2006 Jul;6(7):1053-60. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2006.01.015. Epub 2006 Feb 28.


Propolis, which has been used widely in folk medicine, has been shown to exhibit various biological activities but its immunoregulatory and anti-inflammatory activities in intact animals have not been well studied. We investigated these activities of propolis using an ovalbumin-induced asthma animal model. Mice were immunized and sensitized by exposure to ovalbumin (OVA) antigen and administered with low- (65 mg/kg body weight) and high-dose (325 mg/kg body weight) propolis water extracts by tube feeding. The serum OVA-specific IgE titer and cytokine profiles in cultured splenocytes and bronchoalveolar lavage fluids (BALF) were analyzed. The number of eosinophils in BALF was counted. Here we demonstrate that propolis extracts can suppress the serum levels of OVA-specific IgE and IgG(1), and airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) in OVA-sensitized mice. There are no significant differences in the concentration of eotaxin or the number of eosinophils in BALF among the four groups. However, the higher dose of propolis extracts decreases the level of IL-5 in BALF. The splenocytes from mice administered with propolis extracts (low- and high-dose groups) exhibit a strong inhibition of IL-10 secretion and up-regulation of IFN-gamma secretion in splenocytes stimulated with concanavalin A (ConA). In addition, cytokine (IFN-gamma, IL-6, and IL-10) secretion in OVA-stimulated splenocytes from the propolis groups was significantly lower than that in the control group. These results suggest that propolis extracts may be a potential novel therapeutic agent for asthma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Asthma / immunology
  • Asthma / prevention & control*
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / etiology
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / prevention & control
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / chemistry
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / cytology
  • Chemokine CCL11
  • Chemokines, CC / analysis
  • Chemokines, CC / immunology
  • Cytokines / analysis
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Ovalbumin
  • Pneumonia / etiology
  • Pneumonia / immunology
  • Pneumonia / prevention & control*
  • Propolis / chemistry
  • Propolis / pharmacology*
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Spleen / immunology


  • Ccl11 protein, mouse
  • Chemokine CCL11
  • Chemokines, CC
  • Cytokines
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Ovalbumin
  • Propolis