Background: Propolis and cerumen are plant-derived products found in honeybees and stingless bees, respectively. Although propolis is an ancient folk medicine, the bioactivities of cerumen obtained from Australian native stingless bees (Tetragonula carbonaria) have not been widely studied. Therefore, we investigated selected anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of T. carbonaria cerumen.
Methods: A methanolic extract was prepared from the combined cerumen of 40 T. carbonaria hives, and HPLC was used to screen for chemical constituents that scavenged 2,2-azobis(2-methylpropionamidine) dihydrochloride (AAPH). The ability of cerumen extracts to scavenge 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) and to interfere with leukotriene B4 (LTB4) production in ionomycin-stimulated human neutrophils was also examined.
Results: The extract dose-dependently scavenged DPPH (EC50 = 27.0 ± 2.3 μg/mL); and inhibited the 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX)-mediated oxidation of linoleic acid (IC50 = 67.1 ± 9.6 μg/mL). Pre-treatment of isolated human neutrophils with the methanolic cerumen extract additionally inhibited the ionomycin-stimulated production of LTB4 from these cells (IC50 = 13.3 ± 5.3 μg/mL). Following multi-solvent extraction, the free radical-scavenging and 5-LOX-inhibiting activities of the initial cerumen extract were retained in a polar, methanol-water extract, which contained gallic acid and a range of flavonone and phenolic natural products.
Conclusions: The findings identify free radical scavenging activity, and interference by extracts of T. carbonaria cerumen in 5-LOX-LTB4 signaling. Further investigation is needed to determine whether the extracts will provide therapeutic benefits for medical conditions in which oxidative stress and inflammation are implicated, including cardiovascular disease and impaired wound healing.
Keywords: 5-lipoxygenase; Free radical-scavenging; Inflammation; Propolis; Tetragonula carbonaria.