BVT and Cancer – scientific support.

Dr. Weeks Comment:   Honey, you bee still the one!

We have used BVT  for the treatment of people with debilitating inflammatory illnesses since 1984 and since then, the buzz is stronger as evidenced by the supporting research culled from peer-reviewed scientific literature.  Now been venom and its components show promise in the treatment of cancer.

J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Feb 17;127(3):662-8. Epub 2009 Dec 5.

Bee venom suppresses PMA-mediated MMP-9 gene activation via JNK/p38 and NF-kappaB-dependent mechanisms.

Cho HJ, Jeong YJ, Park KK, Park YY, Chung IK, Lee KG, Yeo JH, Han SM, Bae YS, Chang YC.

Research Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Medicine, Catholic University of Daegu School of Medicine, Daegu, Republic of Korea.


ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Bee venom has been used for the treatment of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and for the relief of pain in traditional oriental medicine.

AIM OF THE STUDY: The purpose of this study is to elucidate the effects of bee venom on MMP-9 expression and determine possible mechanisms by which bee venom relieves or prevents the expression of MMP-9 during invasion and metastasis of breast cancer cells. We examined the expression and activity of MMP-9 and possible signaling pathway affected in PMA-induced MCF-7 cells.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Bee venom was obtained from the National Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology of Korea. Matrigel invasion assay, wound-healing assay, zymography assay, western blot assay, electrophoretic mobility shift assay and luciferase gene assay were used for assessment.

RESULTS: Bee venom inhibited cell invasion and migration, and also suppressed MMP-9 activity and expression, processes related to tumor invasion and metastasis, in PMA-induced MCF-7 cells. Bee venom specifically suppressed the phosphorylation of p38/JNK and at the same time, suppressed the protein expression, DNA binding and promoter activity of NF-kappaB. The levels of phosphorylated ERK1/2 and c-Jun did not change. We also investigated MMP-9 inhibition by melittin, apamin and PLA(2), representative single component of bee venom. We confirmed that PMA-induced MMP-9 activity was significantly decreased by melittin, but not by apamin and phospholipase A(2). These data demonstrated that the expression of MMP-9 was abolished by melittin, the main component of bee venom.

CONCLUSION: Bee venom inhibits PMA-induced MMP-9 expression and activity by inhibition of NF-kappaB via p38 MAPK and JNK signaling pathways in MCF-7 cells. These results indicate that bee venom can be a potential anti-metastatic and anti-invasive agent. This useful effect may lead to future clinical research on the anti-cancer properties of bee venom.


Mol Cells. 2010 Feb 28;29(2):209-15.

Melittin suppresses PMA-induced tumor cell invasion by inhibiting NF-kappaB and AP-1-dependent MMP-9 expression.

Park JH, Jeong YJ, Park KK, Cho HJ, Chung IK, Min KS, Kim M, Lee KG, Yeo JH, Park KK, Chang YC.

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Eulji University Hospital, Daejeon 302-799, Korea.


Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) plays an important role in the invasion and metastasis of cancer cells. In this study, we examined the inhibitory effect of bee venom (BV) and its major peptides, melittin and apamin, on PMA-induced invasion induced by MMP-9 expression in Caki-1 renal cancer cells. BV and melittin, but not apamin, significantly suppressed PMA-induced invasion by inhibiting MMP-9 expression in Caki-1 cells. Furthermore, as evidenced by MMP-9 promoter assays, melittin inhibited MMP-9 gene expression by blocking the PMA-stimulated activations of activator protein-1 (AP-1) and nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kappaB). In addition, melittin suppressed the PMA-induced phosphorylations of ERK and JNK mitogen-activated protein kinases, upstream factors involved in Ap-1 and NF-kappaB. These results suggest that the suppression of MMP-9 expression contributes to the anti-tumor properties of melittin.


Pharmacol Ther. 2007 Aug;115(2):246-70. Epub 2007 May 6.

Therapeutic application of anti-arthritis, pain-releasing, and anti-cancer effects of bee venom and its constituent compounds.

Son DJ, Lee JW, Lee YH, Song HS, Lee CK, Hong JT.

College of Pharmacy and CBITRC, Chungbuk National University, 48 Gaesin-dong, Heungduk-gu, Cheongju, Chungbuk 361-763, Korea.


Bee venom (BV) therapy (BVT), the therapeutic application of BV, has been used in traditional medicine to treat diseases, such as arthritis, rheumatism, pain, cancerous tumors, and skin diseases. BV contains a variety of peptides, including melittin, apamin, adolapin, the mast-cell-degranulating (MCD) peptide, enzymes (i.e., phospholipase [PL] A(2)), biologically active amines (i.e., histamine and epinephrine), and nonpeptide components which have a variety of pharmaceutical properties. BV has been reported to have anti-arthritis effects in several arthritis models. Melittin, a major peptide component of BV, has anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritis properties, and its inhibitory activity on nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB) may be essential for the effects of BV. The anti-nociceptive effects of BV have also been demonstrated in thermal, visceral, and inflammatory pain models. Apcupoint stimulation (apipuncture) therapy into subcutaneous region may be important in the BV-induced anti-nociceptive effects. Multiple mechanisms, such as activation of the central and spinal opiod receptor, and alpha(2)-adrenergic activity, as well as activation of the descending serotonergic pathway have been suggested. The inhibition of c-Fos expression in the spinal cord by BV apipuncture in several nociceptive models is also reported to be a possible mechanism. BV also has anti-cancer activity. The cell cytotoxic effects through the activation of PLA(2) by melittin have been suggested to be the critical mechanism for the anti-cancer activity of BV. The conjugation of cell lytic peptide (melittin) with hormone receptors and gene therapy carrying melittin can be useful as a novel targeted therapy for some types of cancer, such as prostate and breast cancer.

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