Nano-vesicular formulation of propolis and cytotoxic effects in a 3D spheroid model of lung cancer

J Sci Food Agric. 2020 Jun;100(8):3525-3535. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.10400. Epub 2020 Apr 18.


Background: Propolis exhibits therapeutic properties due to the presence of phenolic acids, esters, and flavonoids. The scope of this study was to develop a nano-vesicular formulation and establish a three-dimensional (3D) spheroid model in which lung cancer is recapitulated.

Results: Niosome vesicles doped with galangin-rich propolis extract were synthesized by the ether injection method using a cholesterol : surfactant mass ratio of 1 : 3 at 40 °C for 1 h. Formulated niosomes were administered to 3D lung cancer spheroid model and the cytotoxicity was compared with that of a two-dimensional (2D) setting. The galangin content was determined as 86 μg mg-1 propolis extract by ultra-performance liquid chromatography (UPLC). The particle size of loaded niosome was 151 ± 2.84 nm with a polydispersity index (PDI) of about 0.232, and an encapsulation efficiency of 70% was achieved.

Conclusion: The decrease in cell viability and the scattering in the 3D spheroids of A549 lung cancer cells treated with propolis-loaded niosomes were notable, indicating a profound cytotoxic effect and suggesting that they can be utilized as an effective nano-vesicle. © 2020 Society of Chemical Industry.

Keywords: 3D cell culture; galangin; lung cancer; niosome; propolis.

MeSH terms

  • A549 Cells
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Drug Compounding
  • Humans
  • Liposomes / chemistry
  • Liposomes / pharmacology
  • Lung Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Particle Size
  • Propolis / chemistry*
  • Propolis / pharmacology*
  • Spheroids, Cellular / cytology
  • Spheroids, Cellular / drug effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Liposomes
  • Propolis