Molecules. 2016 May 11;21(5)
Inflammation is a pervasive phenomenon triggered by the innate and adaptive immune systems to maintain homeostasis. The phenomenon normally leads to recovery from infection and healing, but when not properly phased, inflammation may cause immune disorders. Bee venom is a toxin that bees use for their protection from enemies.
However, for centuries it has been used in the Orient as an anti-inflammatory medicine for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases. Bee venom and its major component, melittin, are potential means of reducing excessive immune responses and provide new alternatives for the control of inflammatory diseases.
Recent experimental studies show that the biological functions of melittin could be applied for therapeutic use in vitro and in vivo. Reports verifying the therapeutic effects of melittin are accumulating in the literature, but the cellular mechanism(s) of the anti-inflammatory effects of melittin are not fully elucidated.
In the present study, we review the current knowledge on the therapeutic effects of melittin and its detailed mechanisms of action against several inflammatory diseases including skin inflammation, neuroinflammation, atherosclerosis, arthritis and liver inflammation, its adverse effects as well as future prospects regarding the use of melittin.