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1.  Dynamics of Different Bacterial Communities Are Capable of Generating Sustainable Electricity from Microbial Fuel Cells with Organic Waste 
Microbes and Environments  2014;29(2):145-153.
The relationship between the bacterial communities in anolyte and anode biofilms and the electrochemical properties of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) was investigated when a complex organic waste-decomposing solution was continuously supplied to MFCs as an electron donor. The current density increased gradually and was maintained at approximately 100 to 150 mA m−2. Polarization curve analyses revealed that the maximum power density was 7.4 W m−3 with an internal resistance of 110 Ω. Bacterial community structures in the organic waste-decomposing solution and MFCs differed from each other. Clonal analyses targeting 16S rRNA genes indicated that bacterial communities in the biofilms on MFCs developed to specific communities dominated by novel Geobacter. Multidimensional scaling analyses based on DGGE profiles revealed that bacterial communities in the organic waste-decomposing solution fluctuated and had no dynamic equilibrium. Bacterial communities on the anolyte in MFCs had a dynamic equilibrium with fluctuations, while those of the biofilm converged to the Geobacter-dominated structure. These bacterial community dynamics of MFCs differed from those of control-MFCs under open circuit conditions. These results suggested that bacterial communities in the anolyte and biofilm have a gentle symbiotic system through electron flow, which resulted in the advance of current density from complex organic waste.
PMCID: PMC4103520  PMID: 24789988
population dynamics; community structure; microbial fuel cell; Geobacter; selective enrichment
2.  Laxative effects and mechanism of action of Brazilian green propolis 
Brazilian green propolis is reported to have wide range of biological properties including antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-influenza, and antioxidant activities. In the digestive system, a protective effect of propolis on gastric ulcer has been reported, but a laxative effect has not yet been reported. We investigated the effect and the mechanism of action of water and ethanol extracts of Brazilian green propolis.
We examined the laxative effect of propolis on stool frequency by administering orally an ethanol extract of propolis (EEP) or a water extract of propolis (WEP) at 10, 50, 100, or 500 mg/kg to normal mice. We then investigated the effects of propolis using constipation model mice induced by two types of drugs, loperamide (a μ opioid receptor agonist) and clonidine (an α-2 adrenergic receptor agonist). We also investigated the effects of WEP on gastrointestinal transit and contractional tension of the ileum to uncover the mechanism of action of WEP.
Treatment with WEP, but not with EEP, significantly increased the weight of stools (p<0.01 at 500 mg/kg). WEP treatment significantly restored stool frequency and stool weight in clonidine-induced constipation model mice, but not in loperamide-induced constipation model mice. WEP treatment did not affect gastro-intestinal transit, but significantly increased the contractional tension of the isolated ileum of guinea pigs. This increase was inhibited by an acetylcholine receptor antagonist (atropine), but not by a 5-HT receptor antagonist (GR113808).
These findings indicate that WEP has laxative effects both in normal mice and in clonidine-induced constipation model mice. The laxative effects of WEP might be mediated by increased contractional tension of the ileum exerted at least in part via activation of an acetylcholine receptor.
PMCID: PMC3487869  PMID: 23088672
Propolis; Laxative; Acetylcholine receptor; Water extract
3.  3,4-Dicaffeoylquinic Acid, a Major Constituent of Brazilian Propolis, Increases TRAIL Expression and Extends the Lifetimes of Mice Infected with the Influenza A Virus 
Brazilian green propolis water extract (PWE) and its chemical components, caffeoylquinic acids, such as 3,4-dicaffeoylquinic acid (3,4-diCQA), act against the influenza A virus (IAV) without influencing the viral components. Here, we evaluated the anti-IAV activities of these compounds in vivo. PWE or PEE (Brazilian green propolis ethanol extract) at a dose of 200 mg/kg was orally administered to Balb/c mice that had been inoculated with IAV strain A/WSN/33. The lifetimes of the PWE-treated mice were significantly extended compared to the untreated mice. Moreover, oral administration of 3,4-diCQA, a constituent of PWE, at a dose of 50 mg/kg had a stronger effect than PWE itself. We found that the amount of tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) mRNA in the mice that were administered 3,4-diCQA was significantly increased compared to the control group, while H1N1 hemagglutinin (HA) mRNA was slightly decreased. These data indicate that PWE, PEE or 3,4-diCQA possesses a novel and unique mechanism of anti-influenza viral activity, that is, enhancing viral clearance by increasing TRAIL.
PMCID: PMC3163148  PMID: 21876716
4.  Lifespan-Extending Effects of Royal Jelly and Its Related Substances on the Nematode Caenorhabditis elegans 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23527.
One of the most important challenges in the study of aging is to discover compounds with longevity-promoting activities and to unravel their underlying mechanisms. Royal jelly (RJ) has been reported to possess diverse beneficial properties. Furthermore, protease-treated RJ (pRJ) has additional pharmacological activities. Exactly how RJ and pRJ exert these effects and which of their components are responsible for these effects are largely unknown. The evolutionarily conserved mechanisms that control longevity have been indicated. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether RJ and its related substances exert a lifespan-extending function in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and to gain insights into the active agents in RJ and their mechanism of action.
Principal Findings
We found that both RJ and pRJ extended the lifespan of C. elegans. The lifespan-extending activity of pRJ was enhanced by Octadecyl-silica column chromatography (pRJ-Fraction 5). pRJ-Fr.5 increased the animals' lifespan in part by acting through the FOXO transcription factor DAF-16, the activation of which is known to promote longevity in C. elegans by reducing insulin/IGF-1 signaling (IIS). pRJ-Fr.5 reduced the expression of ins-9, one of the insulin-like peptide genes. Moreover, pRJ-Fr.5 and reduced IIS shared some common features in terms of their effects on gene expression, such as the up-regulation of dod-3 and the down-regulation of dod-19, dao-4 and fkb-4. 10-Hydroxy-2-decenoic acid (10-HDA), which was present at high concentrations in pRJ-Fr.5, increased lifespan independently of DAF-16 activity.
These results demonstrate that RJ and its related substances extend lifespan in C. elegans, suggesting that RJ may contain longevity-promoting factors. Further analysis and characterization of the lifespan-extending agents in RJ and pRJ may broaden our understanding of the gene network involved in longevity regulation in diverse species and may lead to the development of nutraceutical interventions in the aging process.
PMCID: PMC3153499  PMID: 21858156
5.  Caffeoylquinic Acids Are Major Constituents with Potent Anti-Influenza Effects in Brazilian Green Propolis Water Extract 
Influenza A viral infections reached pandemic levels in 1918, 1957, 1968, and, most recently, in 2009 with the emergence of the swine-origin H1N1 influenza virus. The development of novel therapeutics or prophylactics for influenza virus infection is urgently needed. We examined the evaluation of the anti-influenza virus (A/WSN/33 (H1N1)) activity of Brazilian green propolis water extract (PWE) and its constituents by cell viability and real-time PCR assays. Our findings showed strong evidence that PWE has an anti-influenza effect and demonstrate that caffeoylquinic acids are the active anti-influenza components of PWE. Furthermore, we have found that the amount of viral RNA per cell remained unchanged even in the presence of PWE, suggesting that PWE has no direct impact on the influenza virus but may have a cytoprotective activity by affecting internal cellular process. These findings indicate that caffeoylquinic acids are the active anti-influenza components of PWE. Above findings might facilitate the prophylactic application of natural products and the realization of novel anti-influenza drugs based on caffeoylquinic acids, as well as further the understanding of cytoprotective intracellular mechanisms in influenza virus-infected cells.
PMCID: PMC3057164  PMID: 21423687
6.  Laxative effects of agarwood on low-fiber diet-induced constipation in rats 
Agarwood (Aquilaria sinensis), well known as incense in Southeast Asia, has been used as a digestive in traditional medicine. We investigated the laxative effects of an ethanol extract of agarwood leaves (EEA) in a rat model of low-fiber diet-induced constipation.
A set of rats was bred on a normal diet while another set was placed on a low-fiber diet to induce constipation. The laxative effect of agarwood was then investigated on both sets of rats.
Pretreatment of normal rats with single dose of EEA (600 mg/kg, p.o.) significantly increased frequency and weight of stools. Also, treatments with EEA (300 and 600 mg/kg, p.o.) for 14 days caused a significant increase in stool frequency and weight. Feeding of the animals with a low-fiber diet resulted in a decrease in stool weight, frequency, and water content and also delayed carmine egestion. A single treatment with EEA (600 mg/kg) or senna (150 and 300 mg/kg) significantly increased stool frequency, weight, and water content and also accelerated carmine egestion in the model rats. Once daily administrations of EEA (150 mg/kg), for 14 days, caused a significant increase in water content of stools. The higher doses of EEA (300 and 600 mg/kg) significantly increased frequency, weight, and water content of the stools while accelerating carmine egestion in the constipated rats. Senna (150 and 300 mg/kg) produced similar effect as the higher doses of EEA but, in addition, induced severe diarrhea.
These findings indicate that EEA has a laxative effect, without causing diarrhea, in a rat model of low-fiber diet-induced constipation. These findings suggest that EEA may be highly effective on constipation as a complementary medicine in humans suffering from life style-induced constipation.
PMCID: PMC2995776  PMID: 21078136
7.  Anti-inflammatory effect of bee pollen ethanol extract from Cistus sp. of Spanish on carrageenan-induced rat hind paw edema 
Bee pollen, a honeybee product, is the feed for honeybees prepared themselves by pollens collecting from plants and has been consumed as a perfect food in Europe, because it is nutritionally well balanced. In this study, we aimed to investigate the anti-inflammatory effect of bee pollen from Cistus sp. of Spanish origin by a method of carrageenan-induced paw edema in rats, and to investigate the mechanism of anti-inflammatory action and also to elucidate components involved in bee pollen extracted with ethanol.
The bee pollen bulk, its water extract and its ethanol extract were administered orally to rats. One hour later, paw edema was produced by injecting of 1% solution of carrageenan, and paw volume was measured before and after carrageenan injection up to 5 h. The ethanol extract and water extract were measured COX-1 and COX-2 inhibitory activities using COX inhibitor screening assay kit, and were compared for the inhibition of NO production in LPS-stimulated RAW 264.7 cells. The constituents of bee pollen were purified from the ethanol extract subjected to silica gel or LH-20 column chromatography. Each column chromatography fractions were further purified by repeated ODS or silica gel column chromatography.
The bee pollen bulk mildly suppressed the carrageenan-induced paw edema and the water extract showed almost no inhibitory activity, but the ethanol extract showed relatively strong inhibition of paw edema. The ethanol extract inhibited the NO production and COX-2 but not COX-1 activity, but the water extract did not affect the NO production or COX activities. Flavonoids were isolated and purified from the ethanol extract of bee pollen, and identified at least five flavonoids and their glycosides.
It is suggested that the ethanol extract of bee pollen show a potent anti-inflammatory activity and its effect acts via the inhibition of NO production, besides the inhibitory activity of COX-2. Some flavonoids included in bee pollen may partly participate in some of the anti-inflammatory action. The bee pollen would be beneficial not only as a dietary supplement but also as a functional food.
PMCID: PMC2906419  PMID: 20573205
8.  Bee products prevent VEGF-induced angiogenesis in human umbilical vein endothelial cells 
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a key regulator of pathogenic angiogenesis in diseases such as cancer and diabetic retinopathy. Bee products [royal jelly (RJ), bee pollen, and Chinese red propolis] from the honeybee, Apis mellifera, have been used as traditional health foods for centuries. The aim of this study was to investigate the anti-angiogenic effects of bee products using human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs).
In an in vitro tube formation assay, HUVECs and fibroblast cells were incubated for 14 days with VEGF and various concentrations of bee products [RJ, ethanol extract of bee pollen, ethanol extract of Chinese red propolis and its constituent, caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE)]. To clarify the mechanism of in vitro angiogenesis, HUVEC proliferation and migration were induced by VEGF with or without various concentrations of RJ, bee pollen, Chinese red propolis, and CAPE.
RJ, bee pollen, Chinese red propolis, and CAPE significantly suppressed VEGF-induced in vitro tube formation in the descending order: CAPE > Chinese red propolis >> bee pollen > RJ. RJ and Chinese red propolis suppressed both VEGF-induced HUVEC proliferation and migration. In contrast, bee pollen and CAPE suppressed only the proliferation.
Among the bee products, Chinese red propolis and CAPE in particular showed strong suppressive effects against VEGF-induced angiogenesis. These findings indicate that Chinese red propolis and CAPE may have potential as preventive and therapeutic agents against angiogenesis-related human diseases.
PMCID: PMC2783019  PMID: 19917137
9.  Estrogenic Activities of Fatty Acids and a Sterol Isolated from Royal Jelly 
We have previously reported that royal jelly (RJ) from honeybees (Apis mellifera) has weak estrogenic activity mediated by interaction with estrogen receptors that leads to changes in gene expression and cell proliferation. In this study, we isolated four compounds from RJ that exhibit estrogenic activity as evaluated by a ligand-binding assay for the estrogen receptor (ER) β. These compounds were identified as 10-hydroxy-trans-2-decenoic acid, 10-hydroxydecanoic acid, trans-2-decenoic acid and 24-methylenecholesterol. All these compounds inhibited binding of 17β-estradiol to ERβ, although more weakly than diethylstilbestrol or phytoestrogens. However, these compounds had little or no effect on the binding of 17β-estradiol to ERα. Expression assays suggested that these compounds activated ER, as evidenced by enhanced transcription of a reporter gene containing an estrogen-responsive element. Treatment of MCF-7 cells with these compounds enhanced their proliferation, but concomitant treatment with tamoxifen blocked this effect. Exposure of immature rats to these compounds by subcutaneous injection induced mild hypertrophy of the luminal epithelium of the uterus, but was not associated with an increase in uterine weight. These findings provide evidence that these compounds contribute to the estrogenic effect of RJ.
PMCID: PMC2529378  PMID: 18830443
Apis mellifera; 2-Decenoic acid; 10-Hydroxydecanoic acid; 10-Hydroxy-2-decenoic acid; 24-Methylenecholesterol

Results 1-9 (9)