Before the discovery of diethylsylbestrol (DES), warfarin, and indomethacin contamination, PC-SPES appeared to have some efficacy as an antineoplastic agent in laboratory and animal studies. These studies are presented below. Due to the fact that there was no standardization of the composition of PC-SPES or any knowledge of the amount of contamination of each lot used in testing, it is difficult to interpret the data from these studies.
In one study that attempted to measure the effects of the whole PC-SPES mixture versus that of individual herbs of PC-SPES on prostate-specific antigen (PSA) expression and cell growth, LNCaP cells were treated with ethanol extracts of PC-SPES and each of the eight herbs. The PC-SPES mixture reduced cell growth by 72% to 80%, while Dendranthema morifolium (Ramat.) Tzvelev (synonym Chrysanthemum morifolium) (chrysanthemum) produced the highest reduction of the herb group at 85%. Panax pseudoginseng var. notoginseng Hoo & tseng (Synonym Panax notoginseng [Burkill] F.H.Chen) was next at 80.9% reduction, followed by Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch ex DC. (73%). The lowest reduction in cell growth was exhibited by Serenoa repens (Bartr.) Small (14.5%). Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi, Serenoa repens, and Glycyrrhiza uralensis lowered PSA expression, but each of the other herbs increased PSA expression. The ability of individual herbs to reduce PSA expression was not uniform, but the PC-SPES mixture as a whole exhibited a uniform response. The varying results with the individual herbs and the positive response of the cells (i.e., increased cytotoxicity and reduced PSA expression) to the aggregate PC-SPES mixture may suggest that the botanicals in PC-SPES work in concert and that no individual herb can account for the overall effects of the mixture.
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In other studies, PC-SPES was found to inhibit clonal growth in three human prostatecancercell lines: LNCaP, PC-3, and DU-145. Cell cycle analysis showed cell cycle arrest at the G2 phase.Cell proliferation and reduced clonogenicity were observed in cancer cell lines other than those of prostate cancer: human breastcarcinoma lines MCF-7 and T47-D, SK-N-MC neuroepithelioma, COLO 38 melanoma, U937 histiomonocytic lymphoma, and HL-60 and MOLT-4 leukemias.Cytotoxic and cytostatic effects of PC-SPES were common to all tumor cell lines tested.
In another study evaluating regulation of PSA expression and androgenreceptor (AR) activity, LNCaP prostate cancer cell lines showed downregulation of both proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) and PSA expression. PSA changes occurred concurrently with the decrease of PCNA. The results suggest that PC-SPES modulates cell growth by changing PCNA expression and may decrease PSA levels indirectly by suppressing AR expression.
None of the studies above indicated lot number or year of manufacture of the PC-SPES used. Therefore, it is not possible to assess the amount of contamination of the mixtures used in the studies or whether the mixtures used were not in fact contaminated.