Background: Propolis exhibits huge potential in the pharmaceutical industry. In the present study, its effects were investigated on dendritic cells (DCs) stimulated with a tumor antigen (MAGE-1) and retinoic acid (RA) and on T lymphocytes to observe a possible differential activation of T lymphocytes, driving preferentially to Th1 or Treg cells. Methods: Cell viability, lymphocyte proliferation, gene expression (T-bet and FoxP3), and cytokine production by DCs (TNF-α, IL-10, IL-6 and IL-1β) and lymphocytes (IFN-γ and TGF-β) were analyzed. Results: MAGE-1 and RA alone or in combination with propolis inhibited TNF-α production and induced a higher lymphoproliferation compared to control, while MAGE-1 + propolis induced IL-6 production. Propolis in combination with RA induced FoxP3 expression. MAGE-1 induced IFN-γ production while propolis inhibited it, returning to basal levels. RA inhibited TGF-β production, what was counteracted by propolis. Conclusion: Propolis affected immunological parameters inhibiting pro-inflammatory cytokines and favoring the regulatory profile, opening perspectives for the control of inflammatory conditions.
Keywords: Dendritic cells; T CD4+ cells; MAGE-1; Retinoic acid; Propolis; Immunomodulation.