The cytotoxic effects of brown Cuban propolis depend on the nemorosone content and may be mediated by mitochondrial uncoupling.Chem Biol Interact 2015; 228:28-34CB
Three main types of Cuban propolis directly related to their secondary metabolite composition have been identified: brown, red and yellow propolis; the former is majoritarian and is characterized by the presence of nemorosone. In this study, brown Cuban propolis extracts were found cytotoxic against HepG2 cells and primary rat hepatocytes, in close association with the nemorosone contents. In mitochondria isolated from rat liver the extracts displayed uncoupling activity, which was demonstrated by the increase in succinate-supported state 4 respiration rates, dissipation of mitochondrial membrane potential, Ca(2+) release from Ca(2+)-loaded mitochondria, and a marked ATP depletion. As in cells, the degree of such mitotoxic events was closely correlated to the nemorosone content. The propolis extracts that do not contain nemorosone were neither cytotoxic nor mitotoxic, except R-29, whose detrimental effect upon cells and mitochondria could be mediated by its isoflavonoids and chalcones components, well known mitochondrial uncouplers. Our results at least partly unravel the cytotoxic mechanism of Cuban propolis, particularly regarding brown propolis, and raise concerns about the toxicological implication of Cuban propolis consumption.