dcyphr | The Role of Coconut Oil to Increase Expression of MMP-9, PDGF-BB, and TGF-β1 in NIH-3T3 Cell Line


This study aims to see changes in protein expression in NIH 3T3 cells treated with virgin coconut oil (VCO) and hydrolysed virgin coconut oil (HVCO). The cells were treated with either nothing, VCO, or HVCO. Then each of those conditions were analysed to look for changes of expression in MMP-9, PDGF-BB, or TGF-beta1. Both VCO and HVCO increased the expression of all three proteins tested, with HVCO increasing the values by a higher factor. This data tells us that coconut oil is active in the wound healing process, and HVCO is more active than VCO.


The four stages of the complex wound healing process are: 1 hemostasis, when the initial clotting begins. 2 inflammation, where cytokines are secreted from fibroblasts and growth factors active the immune response. 3 and 4 proliferation and remodeling, which includes diverse processes like proliferation, differentiation, and formation of the nex extracellular matrix. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) can function in wound healing, growth, migration, invasion, and angiogenesis. Matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9) is the specific MMP focused in in this study. Transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF-beta1) and platelet-derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB) are both growth factors that are function in proliferation and migration.

Coconut oil is a saturated oil, made up of several medium sized fatty acid chains. Virgin coconut oil (VCO) can be isolated from a coconut at low temperatures without any refining, bleaching, or deodorizing. VCO contains lauric acid, which has antimicrobial properties. Hydrolysis of VCO (HVCO) creates free fatty acids and other molecules that have a stronger antimicrobial effect. VCO and HVCO have been studied in their effect on burn would healing, but this study aims to see if VCO or HVCO alters the expression of MMP-9, PDGF-BB, and TGF-beta1 in NIH 3T3 cells in the lab setting.

Materials and Methods

The research team hydrolysed the VCO. The NIH 3T3 cells were cultured using standard techniques. The cells were treated with either VCO or HVCO and immunohistochemistry was used to determine the concentrations of MMP-9, PDGF-BB, and TGF-beta1.


The protein levels of MMP-9, PDGF-BB, and TGF-beta1 in VCO and HVCO conditions were compared to an untreated control sample. Percentage of MMP-9 expression was increased from 2.89% to 28.16% in VCO and 55.40% HVCO. Percentage of PDGF-BB expression was increased form 28.11% to 48.53% in VCO and 61.65% HVCO. Percentage of TGF-beta1 expression was increased from 4.19% to 18.41% in VCO and 36.35% in HVCO.


The findings of this study confirm that VCO and HVCO increase the expression of MMP-9, PDGF-BB, and TGF-beta1, which increases proliferation, migration, angiogenesis, and wound healing. VCO and HVCO can be active in the process of wound healing. Previous studies have found HVOC and VOC to be more effective than bioplacenton in wound healing, and should be further studied as would treatment due to its antimicrobial function and its upregulation of MMP-9, PDGF-BB, and TGF-beta1.