biochemistry, pharmacology and medical use
Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology,
Institute of Pharmacy, Freie Universitat Berlin, Germany.
Bromelain is a crude extract from the pineapple that contains, among other
components, various closely related proteinases, demonstrating, in vitro and in
vivo, antiedematous, antiinflammatory, antithrombotic and fibrinolytic
The active factors involved are biochemically characterized only in
Due to its efficacy after oral administration, its safety and lack of
undesired side effects, bromelain has earned growing acceptance and compliance
among patients as a phytotherapeutical drug.
A wide range of therapeutic
benefits has been claimed for bromelain, such as reversible inhibition of
platelet aggregation, angina pectoris, bronchitis, sinusitis, surgical traumas,
thrombophlebitis, pyelonephritis and enhanced absorption of drugs, particularly
Biochemical experiments indicate that these pharmacological
properties depend on the proteolytic activity only partly, suggesting the
presence of nonprotein factors in bromelain.
Recent results from preclinical and
pharmacological studies recommend bromelain as an orally given drug for
complementary tumor therapy: bromelain acts as an immunomodulator by raising the
impaired immunocytotoxicity of monocytes against tumor cells from patients and
by inducing the production of distinct cytokines such as tumor necrosis
factor-a, interleukin (Il)-1beta, Il-6, and Il-8.
In a recent clinical study
with mammary tumor patients, these findings could be partially confirmed.
Especially promising are reports on animal experiments claiming an
antimetastatic efficacy and inhibition of metastasis-associated platelet
aggregation as well as inhibition of growth and invasiveness of tumor cells.
Apparently, the antiinvasive activity does not depend on the proteolytic
activity. This is also true for bromelain effects on the modulation of immune
functions, its potential to eliminate burn debris and to accelerate wound
Whether bromelain will gain wide acceptance as a drug that inhibits
platelet aggregation, is antimetastatic and facilitates skin debridement, among
other indications, will be determined by further clinical trials.
The claim that
bromelain cannot be effective after oral administration is definitely refuted at
PMID: 11577981 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]