J Med Food, 2013 Jan 25
Honeybee (Apis mellifera) royal jelly (RJ) has a long history in human medicine because of its health-protecting properties. To develop a fundamental and comprehensive understanding of lipids in RJ, this article reviews the available literature on lipid compounds identified from RJ extracts and in vitro pharmacological effects of 10-hydroxy-2-decenoic acid in RJ and other closely related compounds, some of which are also identified as lipid compounds in RJ.
Overall, the lipids in RJ are composed of mostly (aliphatic) fatty acids, almost all of which are present as free fatty acids and scarcely any as esters. Most fatty acids in RJ are medium-chain fatty acids, whether hydroxylated in terminal and/or internal positions, terminated with mono- or dicarboxylic acid groups, and saturated or monounsaturated at the 2-position. Besides these fatty acids, lipids in RJ contain sterols in minor amounts. Lipids in RJ are useful as preventive and supportive medicines with functionalities that include potential inhibitors of cancer growth, immune system modulators, alternative therapies for menopause, skin-aging protectors, neurogenesis inducers, and more.
Taken together, the evidence suggests that health-protecting properties of RJ can be, in part, ascribed to actions of lipids in RJ.