Effect of bee venom and its fractions on the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines in PMA-differentiated U937 cells co-stimulated with LPS

Jonans Tusiimire, Jennifer Wallace, Nicola Woods, Mark J. Dufton, John A. Parkinson, Grainne Abbott, Carol J. Clements, Louise Young, Jin Kyu Park, Jong Woon Jeon, Valerie A. Ferro, David G. Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
90 Downloads (Pure)


The venom of Apis mellifera (honey bee) has been reported to play a role in immunotherapy, but existing evidence to support its immuno-modulatory claims is insufficient. Four fractions from whole bee venom (BV) were separated using medium pressure liquid chromatography. Their ability to induce the production of cytokines TNFα, IL-1β and IL-6 in phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate (PMA)-treated U937 cells was assessed. The levels of the three cytokines produced by stimulation with the four fractions and crude BV without LPS were not significantly different from negative control values. However, co-stimulation of the cells with LPS and Fraction 4 (F-4) induced a 1.6-fold increase in TNF-α level (p < 0.05) compared to LPS alone. Likewise, LPS-induced IL-1β production was significantly synergised in the presence of F-1 (nine-fold), F-2 (six-fold), F-3 (four-fold) and F-4 (two-fold) fractions, but was only slightly enhanced with crude BV (1.5-fold) relative to LPS. Furthermore, the LPS-stimulated production of IL-6 was not significantly increased in cells co-treated with F-2 and F-3, but the organic fraction (F-4) showed an inhibitory effect (p < 0.05) on IL-6 production. The latter was elucidated by NMR spectroscopy and found to contain(Z)-9-eicosen-1-ol. The effects observed with the purified BV fractions were more marked than those obtained with the crude sample.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11
Number of pages15
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2016


  • bee venom
  • pro-inflammatory cytokines
  • LPS stimulation
  • U937 cells
  • PMA differentiated
  • Apis melllifera

Cite this