Yuta Inokuchi1, Masamitsu Shimazawa1, Yoshimi Nakajima1,3, Shinsuke Suemori1,2, Satoshi Mishima3 and Hideaki Hara1
1Department of Biofunctional Molecules, Gifu Pharmaceutical University, 2Department of Ophthalmology, Gifu University School of Medicine and 3Research Center, API Co. Ltd, Gifu, Japan
Propolis, a honeybee product, has gained popularity as a food and alternative medicine. Its constituents have been shown to exert pharmacological (anticancer, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory) effects. We investigated whether Brazilian green propolis exerts neuroprotective effects in the retina in vitro and/or in vivo. In vitro, retinal damage was induced by 24 h hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) exposure, and cell viability was measured by Hoechst 33342 and YO-PRO-1 staining or by a resazurin-reduction assay. Propolis inhibited the neurotoxicity and apoptosis induced in cultured retinal ganglion cells (RGC-5, a rat ganglion cell line transformed using E1A virus) by 24 h H2O2 exposure. Propolis also inhibited the neurotoxicity induced in RGC-5 cultures by staurosporine. Regarding the possible underlying mechanism, in pig retina homogenates propolis protected against oxidative stress (lipid peroxidation), as also did trolox (water-soluble vitamin E). In mice in vivo, propolis (100 mg kg(-1); intraperitoneally administered four times) reduced the retinal damage (decrease in retinal ganglion cells and in thickness of inner plexiform layer) induced by intravitreal in vivo N-methyl-d-aspartate injection. These findings indicate that Brazilian green propolis has neuroprotective effects against retinal damage both in vitro and in vivo, and that a propolis-induced inhibition of oxidative stress may be partly responsible for these neuroprotective effects.