Bee venom inhibits tumor angiogenesis and metastasis by inhibiting tyrosine phosphorylation of VEGFR-2 in LLC-tumor-bearing mice.
ABSTRACT Bee venom (BV) treatment is the therapeutic application of honeybee venom (HBV) for treating various diseases in Oriental medicine. In the present work, the authors investigated the functional specificity of BV as an angiogenesis inhibitor using in vitro models and in vivo mouse angiogenesis and lung metastasis models. BV significantly inhibited the viability of Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) cells but did not affect peripheral blood mononuclear lymphocytes (PBML) cells. BV also inhibited vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-induced proliferation, migration and capillary-like tube formation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Western blotting analysis showed that BV inhibited AKT and MAPK phosphorylation in LLC cells and HUVECs and down regulated expression of VEGF and VEGFR-2 of LLC cells and HUVECs. Also, BV effectively disrupted VEGF-induced neovascularization in Matrigel plugs in our in vivo angiogenesis assay. When given subcutaneously, BV also significantly suppressed tumor angiogenesis through inhibition of VEGF and VEGFR-2 in LLC model. Mice bearing subcutaneous LLC tumors were treated with 1mug/ml or 10mug/ml of BV. They showed reductions ranging between 49% and 62% in primary tumor volume and reduction of spontaneous pulmonary metastasis occurrences. Furthermore, BV treatment in the spontaneous lung metastases model after primary tumor excision prolonged their median survival time from 27 to 58days. These results suggest that the tumor-specific anti-angiogenic activity of BV takes effect during different stages of tumor progression by blocking the tyrosine phosphorylation of VEGFR-2, and validate the application of BV in lung cancer treatment.