Elevated plasma homocysteine (Hcy) level is a most important risk factor for various vascular diseases including coronary, cerebral and peripheral arterial and venous thrombosis. Propolis is produced by honeybee from various oils, pollens and wax materials. Therefore, it has various biological properties including antioxidant, antitumor and antimicrobial activities.
This study investigated the effects of propolis and Hcy on apoptosis in cancer cells. According to our findings, Hcy induced apoptosis in human breast adenocarcinoma (MCF-7) cells by regulating numerous genes and proteins involved in the apoptotic signal transduction pathway. In contrast, treatment with propolis inhibited caspase- 3 and -9 induced by Hcy in MCF-7 cells. It can be concluded that Hcy may augment the activity of anticancer agents that induce excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and apoptosis in their target cells. In contrast to the previous studies herein we found that propolis in low doses protected cancer cells inhibiting cellular apoptosis mediated by intracellular ROS-dependent mitochondrial pathway.