Author(s): Somerfield SD, Stach JL, Mraz C, Gervais F, Skamene E
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Abstract Bee venom (BV) is used in folk medicine to treat arthritis. It has antiinflammatory effects in animal models of rheumatic disease. We have studied the effects of BV on human neutrophil production of superoxide (O2-) and hydrogen peroxide, finding potent, nontoxic, dose-dependent production inhibition. Melittin, the major fraction of BV (50-70\%) shows high-affinity calmodulin binding (Kd 3 nM). Drugs which bind calmodulin, such as trifluoperazine, inhibit O2- production by human neutrophils. For these reasons we have investigated the effect of melittin and other BV peptides on O2- production by human peripheral blood leukocytes. We show that melittin inhibited O2- production both pre- and poststimulation in contrast to other BV fractions which were without effect. Oxygen radicals and their derivatives from inflammatory cells are implicated in the tissue damage occurring during inflammation. The inhibition is due to a direct effect on cells, and not indicator medium, dismutation, toxic or scavenging effects. We propose that melittin may serve as a prototype small (mol wt 1280), cationic, amphipathic, calmodulin-binding, membrane-active, superoxide-production-inhibiting peptide, providing a model for peptides which could have a role in in vivo regulation of radical production.
This article was published in Inflammation
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology