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1.  Quantitative Analysis of Apisin, a Major Protein Unique to Royal Jelly 
Apisin, a protein that is unique to royal jelly (RJ), is known to compose the greater part of the RJ proteins and to exist as a heterooligomer containing major royal jelly protein 1 and apisimin. However, few reports on the methods for quantifying apisin have been published. Thus, we attempted to quantify apisin using HPLC, a widely used analytical technique, as described below. Isoelectric precipitation and size-exclusion chromatography were used to obtain the purified protein, which was identified as apisin by SDS-PAGE and LC-MS analyses. The purified apisin was lyophilized and then used to generate a calibration curve to quantify apisin in RJ. The apisin content was fairly constant (i.e., 3.93 to 4.67 w/w%) in natural RJ. This study is the first to describe a simple, standardized method for quantifying apisin using HPLC and suggests that apisin can be used as a benchmark for future evaluations of RJ quality.
PMCID: PMC5045987  PMID: 27721892
2.  Brazilian green propolis water extract up-regulates the early expression level of HO-1 and accelerates Nrf2 after UVA irradiation 
Exposure to ultraviolet A (UVA) irradiation is the major cause of human skin aging. Suppression of UVA irradiation-induced skin fibroblast cell damage protects the skin against aging. An oxidative stress response transcription factor nuclear factor-(erythroid-derived 2)-related factor 2 (Nrf2) has an important role as a cytoprotective system against oxidative stress in the human skin and other organs. Propolis has been commonly used as a traditional medicine since ancient times. The water extract of propolis (WEP) mainly contains caffeoylquinic acids. In our previous study, we reported that WEP and its major constituents protected immortalized human skin fibroblast cells (NB1-RGB) against UVA irradiation-induced cell death. In this study, we examined the mechanism of WEP-mediated skin protection and the possible involvement of Nrf2/antioxidant response element (ARE) pathways.
Brazilian green propolis was used in the present study (Minas Gerais State, Brazil), Baccharis dracunculifolia is its main source. The Baccharis propolis was extracted with water at 50 °C to yield water extract. The NB1-RGB cell cultures were incubated for 23 h. After replenishing the medium, WEP or its constituents were added to the cell cultures. After 1 h, the cells were exposed to 10 J/cm2 of UVA light (365 nm UVA light source, CL-1000 L UV Closslinkers, Ultraviolet Products Ltd., Cambridge, UK). Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) expression levels in NB1-RGB cells were evaluated using western blotting. Nrf2 nuclear translocation changes in NB1-RGB cells were indicated using immunostaining.
We demonstrated that WEP pretreatment up-regulated HO-1 expression level after UVA irradiation at earlier time points than vehicle pretreatment did, and three main constituents of WEP showed similar effects. Furthermore, WEP pretreatment also accelerated Nrf2 nuclear translocation after UVA irradiation.
Our findings indicated that WEP acts as an early inducer of HO-1 and rapid activator of Nrf2 to protect against UVA-induced oxidative stress.
PMCID: PMC4661975  PMID: 26611539
Propolis; Nrf2; HO-1; Skin fibroblast; UVA
3.  10-Hydroxy-2-decenoic Acid, the Major Lipid Component of Royal Jelly, Extends the Lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans through Dietary Restriction and Target of Rapamycin Signaling 
Journal of Aging Research  2015;2015:425261.
Royal jelly (RJ) produced by honeybees has been reported to possess diverse health-beneficial properties and has been implicated to have a function in longevity across diverse species as well as honeybees. 10-Hydroxy-2-decenoic acid (10-HDA), the major lipid component of RJ produced by honeybees, was previously shown to increase the lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans. The objective of this study is to elucidate signaling pathways that are involved in the lifespan extension by 10-HDA. 10-HDA further extended the lifespan of the daf-2 mutants, which exhibit long lifespan through reducing insulin-like signaling (ILS), indicating that 10-HDA extended lifespan independently of ILS. On the other hand, 10-HDA did not extend the lifespan of the eat-2 mutants, which show long lifespan through dietary restriction caused by a food-intake defect. This finding indicates that 10-HDA extends lifespan through dietary restriction signaling. We further found that 10-HDA did not extend the lifespan of the long-lived mutants in daf-15, which encodes Raptor, a target of rapamycin (TOR) components, indicating that 10-HDA shared some longevity control mechanisms with TOR signaling. Additionally, 10-HDA was found to confer tolerance against thermal and oxidative stress. 10-HDA increases longevity not through ILS but through dietary restriction and TOR signaling in C. elegans.
PMCID: PMC4350847  PMID: 25789174
4.  The Effects of Brazilian Green Propolis against Excessive Light-Induced Cell Damage in Retina and Fibroblast Cells 
Background. We investigated the effects of Brazilian green propolis and its constituents against white light- or UVA-induced cell damage in mouse retinal cone-cell line 661W or human skin-derived fibroblast cells (NB1-RGB). Methods. Cell damage was induced by 3,000lx white light for 24 h or 4/10 J/cm2 UVA exposure. Cell viability was assessed by Hoechst33342 and propidium iodide staining or by tetrazolium salt (WST-8) cell viability assay. The radical scavenging activity of propolis induced by UVA irradiation in NB1-RGB cells was measured using a reactive-oxygen-species- (ROS-) sensitive probe CM-H2DCFDA. Moreover, the effects of propolis on the UVA-induced activation of p38 and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) were examined by immunoblotting. Results. Treatment with propolis and two dicaffeoylquinic acids significantly inhibited the decrease in cell viability induced by white light in 661W. Propolis and its constituents inhibited the decrease in cell viability induced by UVA in NB1-RGB. Moreover, propolis suppressed the intracellular ROS production by UVA irradiation. Propolis also inhibited the levels of phosphorylated-p38 and ERK by UVA irradiation. Conclusion. Brazilian green propolis may become a major therapeutic candidate for the treatment of AMD and skin damage induced by UV irradiation.
PMCID: PMC3876711  PMID: 24416064
5.  Artepillin C, a Major Ingredient of Brazilian Propolis, Induces a Pungent Taste by Activating TRPA1 Channels 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48072.
Brazilian green propolis is a popular health supplement because of its various biological properties. The ethanol extract of Brazilian green propolis (EEBP) is characteristic for its herb-like smell and unique pungent taste. However, the ingredients responsible for its pungency have not yet been identified. This study provides the first evidence that artepillin C is the main pungent ingredient in EEBP and that it potently activates human transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1) channels. EEBP was fractionated using column chromatography with a step gradient elution of an ethanol-water solution, and the fractions having the pungent taste were determined by sensory tests. HPLC analysis revealed that the pungent fraction was composed primarily of artepillin C, a prenylated derivative of cinnamic acid. Artepillin C was also identified as the pungent compound of EEBP by organoleptic examiners. Furthermore, the effects of artepillin C and other cinnamic acids found in EEBP on TRPA1 channels were examined by calcium imaging and plate reader-based assays in human TRPA1-expressing cells to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying their pungent tastes. Artepillin C and baccharin activated the TRPA1 channel strongly, whereas drupanin caused a slight activation and p-coumaric acid showed no activation. Because the EC50 values of artepillin C, baccharin, and allyl isothiocyanate were 1.8 µM, 15.5 µM, and 6.2 µM, respectively, artepillin C was more potent than the typical TRPA1 agonist allyl isothiocyanate. These findings strongly indicate that artepillin C is the main pungent ingredient in EEBP and stimulates a pungent taste by activating TRPA1 channels.
PMCID: PMC3487895  PMID: 23133611
6.  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
7.  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

Results 1-7 (7)