The anti-allergic potential of stingless bee honey from different botanical sources via modulation of mast cell degranulation

Poi Yi Aw Yong, Ashley Jia Wen Yip, Fahmida Islam, Hui Jing Hong, Yi En Teh, Chau Ling Tham, Ji Wei Tan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Allergy is an inflammatory disorder affecting around 20% of the global population. The adverse effects of current conventional treatments give rise to the increased popularity of using natural food products as complementary and alternative medicine against allergic diseases. Stingless bee honey, commonly known as Kelulut honey (KH) in Malaysia, has been used locally as a traditional remedy to relieve cough and asthma. This study evaluated the anti-allergic potential of KH collected from four different botanical sources on phorbol ester 12-myristate-3-acetate and calcium ionophore-activated human mast cells. Methods: The present study examined the inhibitory effects of all collected honey on the release of selected inflammatory mediators, such as tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin (IL)-4, IL-6, IL-8, histamine, and β-hexosaminidase in an activated HMC. Besides that, all honey's total phenolic content (TPC) was also examined, followed by using liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) to identify the phytochemicals in the honey. Further examination of the identified phytochemicals on their potential interaction with selected signaling molecules in an activated mast cell was conducted using computational methods. Results: The results indicated that there were significant inhibitory effects on all selected inflammatory mediators’ release by KH sourced from bamboo (BH) and rubber tree (RH) at 0.5% and 1%, but not KH sourced from mango (AH) and noni (EH). BH and RH were found to have higher TPC values and were rich in their phytochemical profiles based on the LC–MS/MS results. Computational studies were employed to determine the possible molecular target of KH through molecular docking using HADDOCK and PRODIGY web servers. Conclusions: In short, the results indicated that KH possesses anti-allergic effects towards an activated HMC, possibly by targeting downstream MAPKs. However, their anti-allergic effects may vary according to their botanical sources. Nevertheless, the present study has provided insight into the potential application of stingless bee honey as a complementary and alternative medicine to treat various allergic diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number307
Number of pages20
JournalBMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sept 2023


  • Anti-allergic
  • Anti-inflammation
  • Botanical sources
  • Human mast cells
  • In silico
  • Kelulut honey
  • Polyphenols
  • Stingless bee honey

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