An anti-inflammatory herbal extract suppresses prostate tumors in mice

A study published in Clinical Cancer Research August 18 2009 reports that an extract of the Chinese herb Wedelia (a member of the Asteraceae, or sunflower family of plants) shrinks the androgen receptor and prostate cancer in male mice.

"Wedelia chinensis," the authors write, "is a common ingredient of anti-inflammatory herbal medicines in Taiwan and southern China. Inflammation is involved in promoting tumor growth, invasion, and metastasis. This study aims to test the biological effects in vivo of W. chinensis extract on prostate cancer."

Experimental Design: The in vivo efficacy and mechanisms of action of oral administration of a standardized extract of W. chinensis were analyzed in animals bearing a subcutaneous or orthotopic prostate cancer xenograft.

Results: Exposure of prostate cancer cells to W. chinensis extract induced apoptosis selectively in androgen receptor (AR)–positive prostate cancer cells and shifted the proportion in each phase of cell cycle toward G2-M phase in AR-negative prostate cancer cells. Oral herbal extract (4 or 40 mg/kg/d for 24-28 days) attenuated the growth of prostate tumors in nude mice implanted at both subcutaneous (31% and 44%, respectively) and orthotopic (49% and 49%, respectively) sites. The tumor suppression effects were associated with increased apoptosis and lower proliferation in tumor cells as well as reduced tumor angiogenesis. The antitumor effect of W. chinensis extract was correlated with accumulation of the principle active compounds wedelolactone, luteolin, and apigenin in vivo.

Conclusion: Anticancer action of W. chinensis extract was due to three active compounds that inhibit the AR signaling pathway. Oral administration of W. chinensis extract impeded prostate cancer tumorigenesis. Future studies of W. chinensis for chemoprevention or complementary medicine against prostate cancer in humans are thus warranted. (Clin Cancer Res 2009;15(17):OF1–10)

Sources: Herbal Extract of Wedelia chinensis Attenuates Androgen Receptor Activity and Orthotopic Growth of Prostate Cancer in Nude Mice
Chin-Hsien Tsai1,3, Feng-Min Lin1, Yu-Chih Yang1, Ming-Ting Lee2,3, Tai-Lung Cha4, Guan-James Wu1, Shih-Chuan Hsieh1 and Pei-Wen Hsiao1 Authors' Affiliations: 1 Agricultural Biotechnology Research Center and 2 Institute of Biochemistry, Academia Sinica; 3 Institute of Biochemical Sciences, National Taiwan University; 4 Division of Urology, Department of Surgery, Tri-Service General Hospital, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan

An earlier study found that Wedelia suppresses androgen activity and growth in prostate cancer cells (Carginogenesis, Oct 17 2007) and suggested that its compounds might be useful for chemoprevention and therapy of prostate cancer.

Chinese Wedelia (with photo)

Taiwanese "folk medicine" use of Wedelia to protect against liver toxins

Photos of Chinese Wedelia from Google images

The Asteraceae, or Sunflower family, of plants.