Identification of anti-inflammatory vesicle-like nanoparticles in honey

J Extracell Vesicles. 2021 Feb;10(4):e12069. doi: 10.1002/jev2.12069. Epub 2021 Feb 12.


Honey has been used as a nutrient, an ointment, and a medicine worldwide for many centuries. Modern research has demonstrated that honey has many medicinal properties, reflected in its anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory bioactivities. Honey is composed of sugars, water and a myriad of minor components, including minerals, vitamins, proteins and polyphenols. Here, we report a new bioactive component‒vesicle-like nanoparticles‒in honey (H-VLNs). These H-VLNs are membrane-bound nano-scale particles that contain lipids, proteins and small-sized RNAs. The presence of plant-originated plasma transmembrane proteins and plasma membrane-associated proteins suggests the potential vesicle-like nature of these particles. H-VLNs impede the formation and activation of the nucleotide-binding domain and leucine-rich repeat related (NLR) family, pyrin domain containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome, which is a crucial inflammatory signalling platform in the innate immune system. Intraperitoneal administration of H-VLNs in mice alleviates inflammation and liver damage in the experimentally induced acute liver injury. miR-4057 in H-VLNs was identified in inhibiting NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Together, our studies have identified anti-inflammatory VLNs as a new bioactive agent in honey.

Keywords: NLRP3 inflammasome; exosomes; extracellular vesicles; honey; inflammation; nanoparticles; vesicles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / metabolism
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Bees / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Extracellular Vesicles / chemistry
  • Honey / analysis*
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Inflammasomes / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Insect Proteins / analysis
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • MicroRNAs / pharmacology*
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein / drug effects
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein / metabolism*
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Nanoparticles / ultrastructure
  • Plant Proteins / analysis
  • Proteomics
  • Signal Transduction


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Inflammasomes
  • Insect Proteins
  • MicroRNAs
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein
  • Plant Proteins