[Editor’s note: The multidisciplinary research team in Nebraska, USA confirmed that the anti-inflammatory particles in honey can significantly reduce the production and secretion of a variety of inflammation-causing proteins and inflammation-related deaths of certain cells. ]
The Nebraska multidisciplinary research team led by JiujiuYu reported a new biologically active ingredient in honey-vesicle-like nanoparticles (H-VLN). These H-VLNs are membrane-bound nanoparticles that contain lipids, proteins, and small-sized RNA. The presence of plant-derived membrane transmembrane proteins and plasma membrane-associated proteins indicates that these particles have potential vesicle-like properties. H-VLN hinders the formation and activation of nucleotide binding domain and leucine-rich repeat sequence related (NLR) family, which is an important inflammatory signal platform in the natural immune system, including 3 (NLRP3) inflammasomes pyrin domain. Intraperitoneal injection of H-VLNs in mice can reduce inflammation and liver damage in experimental acute liver injury. MiR-4057 in H-VLN can inhibit the activation of NLRP3 inflammasome. The study determined that the anti-inflammatory VLN is a new bioactive agent in honey, and its results were published in the February 2021 Journal of Cell Outsourcing.
Honey has been used as a nutrient, an ointment, and a medicine worldwide for many centuries. Modern research has demonstrated that honey has many medicinal properties, reflected in its anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory bioactivities. Honey is composed of sugars, water and a myriad of minor components, including minerals, vitamins, proteins and polyphenols. Here, we report a new bioactive component—vesicle-like nanoparticles—in honey (H-VLNs). These H-VLNs are membrane-bound nano-scale particles that contain lipids, proteins and small-sized RNAs. The presence of plant-originated plasma transmembrane proteins and plasma membrane-associated proteins suggests the potential vesicle-like nature of these particles. H-VLNs impede the formation and activation of the nucleotide-binding domain and leucine-rich repeat related (NLR) family, pyrin domain containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome, which is a crucial inflammatory signalling platform in the innate immune system. Intraperitoneal administration of H-VLNs in mice alleviates inflammation and liver damage in the experimentally induced acute liver injury. miR-4057 in H-VLNs was identified in inhibiting NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Together, our studies have identified anti-inflammatory VLNs as a new bioactive agent in honey.
To test whether the vesicles themselves help fight inflammation, the research team put them together with white blood cells that produce the inflammation-triggered NLRP3 protein, and then initiate the inflammatory process. Vesicles significantly reduce the production and secretion of a variety of proteins that cause inflammation, as well as inflammation-related death of certain cells. When the research team injected mice with vesicles, they found that the nanoparticles partially alleviated inflammation and drug-induced liver damage.
The researchers determined that microribonucleic acid (microRNA) is the main anti-inflammatory substance in the vesicles, and even determined that a specific microRNA is the most important for this effect.
The research team will further study to determine whether and how vesicle particles ingested through honey inhibit inflammation in humans. Studying how they interact with bacteria in the human intestine may be a starting point worth trying.
As a nutrient, ointment and medicine, honey has been used worldwide for many centuries, and its actual application has proved to have many medicinal properties, such as antibacterial, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Scientists have been committed to using modern biomedical methods to find and verify the biologically active ingredients in honey and their mechanism of action, providing scientific basis for the development of new drugs and medical applications of honey.