The Cardiovascular Therapeutic Potential of Propolis—A Comprehensive Review
Informetrics Research Group, Ton Duc Thang University, Ho Chi Minh City 758307, Vietnam
Faculty of Pharmacy, Ton Duc Thang University, Ho Chi Minh City 758307, Vietnam
Pharmacological Sciences Department, Faculty of Pharmacy, Universidade de Lisboa, Av Prof Gama Pinto, 1649-003 Lisboa, Portugal
Department of Animal Pathology and Production, Bromatology and Food Technology, Faculty of Veterinary, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Trasmontaña s/n, 35413 Arucas, Spain
Faculty of Medicine, Nutrition Lab—Universidade de Lisboa, 1649-028 Lisboa, Portugal
CBIOS (Research Center for Biosciences and Health Technologies), Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias, Campo Grande 376, 1749-024 Lisboa, Portugal
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Biology 2021, 10(1), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology10010027
Received: 7 December 2020 / Revised: 22 December 2020 / Accepted: 29 December 2020 / Published: 4 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Science)
Propolis, also described as bee glue, is a natural component made up of a resinous mixture of honeybee compounds from multiple botanical sources. The literature has demonstrated a variety of medicinal properties attributed to propolis due to its chemical complexity. However, the positive effects of propolis on cardiovascular health have gained little coverage. Therefore, we aimed to provide an accurate and up-to-date review of the main cardiovascular health benefits of propolis. In particular, we intend to establish the key varieties of propolis and pharmacological compounds with the therapeutic effects that are most encouraging, as well as the physiological processes by which those advantages are accomplished. The Brazilian green and red varieties reveal the greatest number of beneficial activities among the varieties of propolis studied. While much of the cardiovascular beneficial effects appear to derive from the cumulative actions of several compounds working via multiple signaling mechanisms, some individual compounds that may enhance the existing therapeutic arsenal have also shown significant results. It is also worth exploring the prospect of using propolis as food supplements.
Owing to its chemical richness, propolis has a myriad of therapeutic properties. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first comprehensive review paper on propolis to focus exclusively on its major effects for cardiovascular health. The propolis compound varieties with the most promising therapeutic benefits and their respective physiological mechanisms will be discussed. Propolis displays an anti-atherosclerotic activity, attained through modulation of the plasma lipid profile and through stabilization of the fatty plaque by inhibiting macrophage apoptosis, vascular smooth muscle proliferation and metalloproteinase activity. The antihypertensive effects of propolis probably arise through the combination of several mechanisms, including the suppression of catecholamine synthesis, stimulation of endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation and vascular anti-inflammatory activity. The anti-hemostatic activity of propolis is attributed to the inhibition of platelet plug formation and antifibrinolytic activity. By inhibiting the secretion of proangiogenic factors, propolis suppresses endothelial cell migration and tubulogenesis, exerting antiangiogenic activity. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities are responsible for protection against vascular endothelial and cardiomyocyte dysfunction, mostly by the prevention of oxidative stress. Among the reviewed propolis varieties, the Brazilian green and red varieties show the largest number of beneficial activities. Further research, especially preclinical, should be conducted to assess the cardiovascular benefits of the given varieties with different compositions.