Green propolis extract promotes in vitro proliferation, differentiation, and migration of bone marrow stromal cells

Hoda Elkhenany, Alexandria University, Egypt
Nagwa El-Badri, Center of Excellence for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, Egypt
Madhu Dhar, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

This article was published openly thanks to the University of Tennessee Open Publishing Support Fund.

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.



Propolis is a resinous material extracted from bee glue with a complex chemical composition. The unique biological properties of propolis have led to its use in alternative medicine and as a nutritional supplement. Recent research shows that propolis could affect the immune system by decreasing the production of inflammatory cytokines and potentiating an effect on resident stem cells. The exact mechanism, however, is unknown. The goal of this study was to demonstrate whether green propolis extract affects any characteristic properties of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs)in vitro.


The cytocompatibility of propolis extract and the proliferation of bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (BMMSCs) in the presence of propolis was evaluated by live/dead cell staining and MTS viability assay over a period of 3 days. Also, we evaluated the effect of propolis extract on trilineage differentiation and migration capacity of undifferentiated and differentiated BMMSCs.


Relative to the control, propolis extract resulted in a significant and linear increase in the proliferation of MSCs and inhibited the osteogenic differentiation of BMMSCs, while there was a potentiation of chondrogenesis and adipogenesis. Finally, in relevance to wound healing, an in vitro scratch assay demonstrated that the migratory potential of differentiated BMMSCs was enhanced in the presence of propolis.


We have demonstrated that propolis extract was not toxic to BMMSCs (<400 >μg/ml), supported their proliferation, potentiated chondrogenic and adipogenic differentiation processes, and supported cell migrationin vitro. Most interestingly, there was a down-regulation of osteogenesis. These data support the use of propolis extract for enhanced cell proliferation and tissue regeneration; however, it warrants further investigation.