Protective effect of fermented Cyclopia intermedia against UVB-induced damage in HaCaT human keratinocytes

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2016 Jul 29;16:261. doi: 10.1186/s12906-016-1218-6.


Background: The fermented leaves and stems of Cyclopia intermedia are used to brew honeybush tea, a herbal tea indigenous to South Africa. The aim of this study was to evaluate the protective effect of fermented honeybush extracts (FH ex) and scale-up fermented honeybush extracts (SFH ex) against ultraviolet B (UVB)-induced damage in HaCaT keratinocytes. To this end, we examined UVB-induced cell viability, antioxidant enzymes, and inflammatory mediators in HaCaT cells.

Methods: UVB significantly decreased HaCaT cell viability, whereas FH ex and SFH ex did not exhibit cytotoxic effects and increased the viability of the HaCaT cells. To further investigate the protective effects of FH ex on UVB-induced oxidative stress in HaCaT cells, the activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), pro-inflammatory cytokines and skin barrier function in terms of involucrin, filaggrin, and loricrin were analyzed.

Results: UVB-induced treatment reduced the activity of antioxidant enzymes and skin barrier function, while FH ex or SFH ex increased their activity. These results suggest that FH ex exerted cytoprotective activity against UVB-induced oxidative stress in HaCaT cells through stimulation of antioxidant enzymes activities. Furthermore, FH ex and SFH ex suppressed the UVB-induced expression of inflammatory mediators, such as IL-1β, IL-6, and IL-8, at mRNA level together with down regulation of matrix metalloproteinase (MMPs). In addition, FH ex and SFH ex reversed the phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) induced by UVB-irradiation. Notably, FH ex and SFH ex markedly inhibited UVB-induced activation of ERK, p38, and JNK. Thus, this agent exhibits anti-oxidative and -inflammatory effects via lowering ROS production, suppressing p38, ERK, and JNK activation, and down-regulating expression of MMPs.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that FH ex and SFH ex can be used as a skin anti-photoaging agent.

Keywords: Fermented honeybush extracts; HaCaT keratinocytes; Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP); Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK); Reactive oxygen species (ROS); Scale-up fermented honeybush extracts.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Cell Survival* / drug effects
  • Cell Survival* / radiation effects
  • Fabaceae / chemistry*
  • Filaggrin Proteins
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes* / drug effects
  • Keratinocytes* / radiation effects
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases / metabolism
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Protective Agents / chemistry
  • Protective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects


  • FLG protein, human
  • Filaggrin Proteins
  • Plant Extracts
  • Protective Agents
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases