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Open Access Research article

Antimicrobial and antiproliferative activities of stingless bee Melipona scutellaris geopropolis

Marcos Guilherme da Cunha1, Marcelo Franchin1, LíviaCâmaradeCarvalho Galvão1, AnaLúciaTascaGóis de Ruiz2, João Ernesto de Carvalho2, Masarahu Ikegaki3, Severino Matias de Alencar4, Hyun Koo5 and Pedro Luiz Rosalen1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Physiological Sciences, Piracicaba Dental School, University of Campinas UNICAMP, Av. Limeira 901, 13414-903, Piracicaba, SP, Brazil

2 Research Center for Chemistry, Biology, and Agriculture, University of Campinas –UNICAMP, CP 6171, 13083-970, Campinas, SP, Brazil

3 College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Federal University of Alfenas, 37130–000, Alfenas, MG, Brazil

4 Department of Agri-Food Industry, Food, and Nutrition, “Luiz de Queiroz” College of Agriculture, University of São Paulo, Av. Pádua Dias, 11, Piracicaba, SP, Brazil

5 Center for Oral Biology, University of Rochester, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester, NY, 14642, USA

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:23  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-23

Published: 28 January 2013



Geopropolis is a type of propolis containing resin, wax, and soil, collected by threatened stingless bee species native to tropical countries and used in folk medicine. However, studies concerning the biological activity and chemical composition of geopropolis are scarce. In this study, we evaluated the antimicrobial and antiproliferative activity of the ethanolic extract of geopropolis (EEGP) collected by Melipona scutellaris and its bioactive fraction against important clinical microorganisms as well as their in vitro cytotoxicity and chemical profile.


The antimicrobial activity of EEGP and fractions was examined by determining their minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) against six bacteria strains as well as their ability to inhibit Streptococcus mutans biofilm adherence. Total growth inhibition (TGI) was chosen to assay the antiproliferative activity of EEGP and its bioactive fraction against normal and cancer cell lines. The chemical composition of M. scutellaris geopropolis was identified by reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry.


EEGP significantly inhibited the growth of Staphylococcus aureus strains and S. mutans at low concentrations, and its hexane fraction (HF) presented the highest antibacterial activity. Also, both EEGP and HF inhibited S. mutans biofilm adherence (p < 0.05) and showed selectivity against human cancer cell lines, although only HF demonstrated selectivity at low concentrations. The chemical analyses performed suggest the absence of flavonoids and the presence of benzophenones as geopropolis major compounds.


The empirical use of this unique type of geopropolis by folk medicine practitioners was confirmed in the present study, since it showed antimicrobial and antiproliferative potential against the cancer cell lines studied. It is possible that the major compounds found in this type of geopropolis are responsible for its properties.

Melipona scutellaris; Geopropolis; Antimicrobial activity; Antiproliferative activity; Chemical profile