Bee-derived antibacterial peptide, defensin-1, promotes wound re-epithelialisation in vitro and in vivo

Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 4;7(1):7340. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-07494-0.


Royal jelly (RJ) has successfully been used as a remedy in wound healing. RJ has multiple effects, including antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory activities, in various cell types. However, no component(s) (other than antibacterial) have been identified in RJ-accelerated wound healing. In this study, we demonstrate that keratinocytes are responsible for the elevated production of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) after incubation with a water extract of RJ. Furthermore, the keratinocyte migration and wound closure rates were significantly increased in the presence of RJ extract. MMP-9 production was reduced significantly following proteinase K treatment but remained stable after heat treatment, indicating that active component(s) have a proteinous character. To identify the component responsible for inducing MMP-9 production, RJ extract was fractionated using C18 RP-HPLC. In fractions exhibiting stimulatory activity, we immunochemically detected the bee-derived antibacterial peptide, defensin-1. Defensin-1 was cloned, and recombinant peptide was produced in a baculoviral expression system. Defensin-1 stimulated MMP-9 secretion from keratinocytes and increased keratinocyte migration and wound closure in vitro. In addition, defensin-1 promoted re-epithelisation and wound closure in uninfected excision wounds. These data indisputably demonstrate that defensin-1, a regular but concentration variable factor found in honey and RJ, contributes to cutaneous wound closure by enhancing keratinocyte migration and MMP-9 secretion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bees / chemistry*
  • Cell Line
  • Defensins / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / metabolism
  • Re-Epithelialization / drug effects*
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Defensins
  • Fatty Acids
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9
  • royal jelly