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Nutrient Supplement Modulation of Prostate Carcinogenesis: Comparative Studies of Herbal Formulations Equiguard™ and PC-Spes
Authors: Joseph M. Wu and Tze-chen Hsieh. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, New York Medical College, Valhall, New York 10595, USA.


Introduction: The notion that botanicals may be used as an alternative or complementary approach for treating prostate cancer is best illustrated in the limited success observed with the herbal formulation known as PC-Spes. Equiguard™ is a dietary supplement prepared with standardized extracts from nine Chinese herbs and reported to have efficacies against various urological disorders.

Objective: This study served two purposes: (1) to test the effects of Equiguard™ on prostate cancer cell growth and modulation of AR/PSA expression in vitro, and (2) to compare effectiveness of PC-Spes and Equiguard™ with respect to aforedescribed parameters.

Methods: Ethanolic extracts of PC-Spes and Equiguard were obtained by suspending contents of each capsule in 1 ml of 70% ethanol, followed by intermittent mixing at 150 rpm for 60 minutes at room temperature, removal of insoluble material by centrifugation, and sterilized filtered. Ethanolic extracts (1 or 3 µl/ml) of PC-Spes and Equiguard were incubated with androgen-responsive LNCaP and androgen-nonresponsive DU-145, JCA-1 and PC-3 human prostate cancer cells. Parameters measured included: 1) cell proliferation and cell cycle analysis, 2) colony formation, 3) induction of apoptosis, and 4) changes in AR/PSA expression.

Results: Dose-dependent growth inhibition was found following a 3-day treatment with Equiguard. A more significant anti-proliferative effect was observed in andogen-nonresponsive cells campared to androgen-responsive cells. In addition, the ability to form colonies in all four prostate cancer cell lines was almost completely abolished by Equiguard. Cell cycle analysis following Equiguard treatment showed growth arrest patterns specific for each cell type tested. Equiguard also significantly lowered both intracellular and secreted PSA levels, suppressed AR expression, as well as caused a significant percentage of LNCaP cells to undergo apoptosis, an effect which was found to a much lesser degree in androgen-nonresponsive prostate cancer cells. Equiguard and PC-Spes demonstrated comparable effectiveness in suppressing androgen-nonresponsive prostate cancer cell proliferation and in the reduction of AR/PSA expression.

Discussions: Results of the in vitro studies show that Equiguard, as an herbal formulation designed to treat various urological disorders, may have applications in the treatment of andogen-dependent and androgen-independent forms of prostate carcinoma. The fact that ethanolic extracts of Equiguard and PC-Spes display different and distinct sensitivities for androg-responsive and androgen-nonresponsive cells, yet are almost equally effective in controlling AR and PSA expression suggest that they contain overlapping as well as distinct bioactive ingredients. Further research will be required to investigate the differential efficacy of Equiguard and PC-Spes against hormone-responsive and -refractory prostate cancer.

Conclusions: Extracts of Equiguard effectively suppress cell gorwth in both androgen-responsive and androgen-nonresponsive prostate cancer cells, and significantly reduce AR and PSA expression, by a magnitude similar to that observed with PC-Spes.


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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
All information presented is for education and research and is not intended to diagnose or prescribe treatment.