Bromelain down-regulates myofibroblast differentiation in an in vitro wound healing assay

Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol. 2013 Oct;386(10):853-63. doi: 10.1007/s00210-013-0890-z. Epub 2013 Jun 15.


Bromelain, a pineapple-derived enzyme mixture, is a widely used drug to improve tissue regeneration. Clinical and experimental data indicate a better outcome of soft tissue healing under the influence of bromelain. Proteolytic, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oedematogenic effects account for this improvement on the systemic level. It remains unknown, whether involved tissue cells are directly influenced by bromelain. In order to gain more insight into those mechanisms by which bromelain modulates tissue regeneration at the cellular level, we applied a well-established in vitro wound healing assay. Two main players of soft tissue healing--fibroblasts and microvascular endothelial cells--were used as mono- and co-cultures. Cell migration, proliferation, apoptosis, and the differentiation of fibroblasts to myofibroblasts as well as interleukin-6 were quantified in response to bromelain (36 × 10(-3) IU/ml) under normoxia and hypoxia. Bromelain attenuated endothelial cell and fibroblast proliferation in a moderate way. This proliferation decrease was not caused by apoptosis, rather, by driving cells into the resting state G0 of the cell cycle. Endothelial cell migration was not influenced by bromelain, whereas fibroblast migration was clearly slowed down, especially under hypoxia. Bromelain led to a significant decrease of myofibroblasts under both normoxic (from 19 to 12 %) and hypoxic conditions (from 22 to 15 %), coincident with higher levels of interleukin-6. Myofibroblast differentiation, a clear sign of fibrotic development, can be attenuated by the application of bromelain in vitro. Usage of bromelain as a therapeutic drug for chronic human wounds thus remains a very promising concept for the future.

MeSH terms

  • Bromelains / pharmacology*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Down-Regulation
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects*
  • Endothelial Cells / physiology
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects*
  • Fibroblasts / physiology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Wound Healing*


  • Interleukin-6
  • Bromelains
  • stem bromelain