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J Natl Cancer Inst. 2002 Nov 6;94(21):1641-7.

Effects of the herbal extract PC-SPES on microtubule dynamics and paclitaxel-mediated prostate tumor growth inhibition.

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Division of Human Biology, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109-1024, USA.



PC-SPES is a botanical preparation shown to have efficacy in patients with androgen-dependent and androgen-independent prostate carcinoma. Several herbal constituents in PC-SPES inhibit tumor growth through cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, although the mechanisms of these activities are poorly defined. We sought to identify PC-SPES-induced changes in gene expression, specifically in those genes encoding cytoskeletal proteins that could be associated with PC-SPES-induced cytoxicity.


LNCaP prostate carcinoma cells were treated with PC-SPES, and changes in gene expression were determined by complementary DNA (cDNA) microarray hybridization and northern blot analyses. PC-SPES and paclitaxel, a microtubule-stabilizing drug, effects on microtubules were assessed by immunofluorescence of treated cells and by in vitro tubulin polymerization assays. In vivo effects of PC-SPES and paclitaxel were assessed using CWR22R androgen-independent prostate cancer xenografts. All statistical tests were two-sided.


PC-SPES treatment of LNCaP cells for 24 hours altered the expression of 17 cytoskeletal genes. mRNA levels of alpha-tubulin decreased sevenfold. Although paclitaxel stabilized and PC-SPES treatment disrupted microtubule architecture in LNCaP cells, the combination of both agents had an intermediate effect. PC-SPES inhibited tubulin polymerization in vitro, even in the presence of paclitaxel. Compared with tumors in control mice (mean tumor volume = 2983 mm(3), 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2380 to 3586 mm(3)), tumors were statistically significantly smaller in mice that received PC-SPES (mean tumor volume = 2018 mm(3), 95% CI = 1450 to 2568 mm(3); P =.028), paclitaxel (mean tumor volume = 1340 mm(3), 95% CI = 697 to 1983 mm(3); P<.001), or the combination of PC-SPES and paclitaxel (mean tumor volume = 1955 mm(3), 95% CI = 1260 to 2650 mm(3); P =.034).


PC-SPES may interfere with microtubule polymerization. This activity has implications for the clinical management of patients with advanced prostate cancer who may be taking PC-SPES concurrently with microtubule-modulating chemotherapeutic agents, such as paclitaxel.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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