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Open Access Research article

Topical Brazilian propolis improves corneal wound healing and inflammation in rats following alkali burns

Luiz Fernando Taranta Martin1, Eduardo Melani Rocha1, Sérgio Britto Garcia2 and Jayter Silva Paula1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Ophthalmology, Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, School of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto - University of São Paulo, Av. Bandeirantes, 3900 – 12°. Andar, Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, Brazil

2 Department of Pathology, School of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto - University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:337  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-337

Published: 27 November 2013



The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of the Brazilian Scaptotrigona sp propolis, a widely used folk medicine, in corneal wound healing and inflammation.


Corneal epithelial defects of 1 mm in diameter were made in the right eyes of Wistar male adult rats by cauterization with silver nitrate sticks. Subsequently, they were divided in two groups (n = 40 rats/group): Brazilian propolis (BP) group was topically treated with a microemulsion containing 1% Brazilian propolis; vehicle (VH) group received the same formulation without propolis. The epithelial defect area was photographed and measured at t = 0 (wound induction), and after 12, 24, 48 and 120 h of treatment. The inflammatory response was evaluated based on counting of neutrophils. Epithelial regeneration rates were determined based on Ki-67 expression in basal epithelial cells. Comparisons were made using the Kruskal-Wallis and the Mann–Whitney U test.


The BP group presented both smaller epithelial defect areas at 12, 24 and 48 h and fewer corneal infiltrating neutrophils at 24 and 48 h (P < 0.01) than the VH group. These effects were associated with more pervasive Ki-67 staining in the BP group at 12 and 24 h (P < 0.05).


Topically applied BP accelerated wound healing and reduced the inflammatory response to silver nitrate-induced corneal alkali burns in rats.

Brazilian propolis; Alkali burn; Cornea regeneration; Corneal inflammation; Ki-67