Bee venom (BV), also known as apitoxin, is widely used in traditional oriental medicine to treat immune-related diseases. Recent studies suggest that BV could be beneficial for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease next to Alzheimer's disease, and PD pathologies are closely associated with neuroinflammation. Previous studies have suggested the neuroprotective effects of BV in animal models of PD are due to the modulation of inflammation. However, the molecular mechanisms responsible for the anti-neuroinflammatory effect of BV have not been elucidated in astrocytes. Here, the authors investigated the neuroprotective effects of BV and pramipexole (PPX; a positive control) in a subchronic MPTP-induced murine PD model. Both BV and PPX prevented MPTP-induced impairments in motor performance and reduced dopaminergic neuron loss, and furthermore, these neuroprotective effects of BV and PPX were found to be associated with reduced astroglial activation in vivo PD model. However, in MPP(+) treated primary cultured astrocytes, BV modulated astrocyte activation, whereas PPX did not, indicating that the neuroprotective effects of PPX were not mediated by neuroinflammation. These findings suggest that BV should be considered a potential therapeutic or preventive agent for PD and other neuroinflammatory associated disorders.
Keywords: Astrocytes; Bee venom; Motor dysfunction; Neuroinflammation; Parkinson’s disease.