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Open Access Research article

Interaction of standardized mistletoe (Viscum album) extracts with chemotherapeutic drugs regarding cytostatic and cytotoxic effects in vitro

Ulrike Weissenstein1*, Matthias Kunz1, Konrad Urech1 and Stephan Baumgartner12

Author Affiliations

1 Society for Cancer Research, Hiscia Institute, Arlesheim, Switzerland

2 Institute of Integrative Medicine, Witten/Herdecke University, Herdecke, Germany

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:6  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-6

Published: 8 January 2014

Abstract

Background

Given the importance of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to cancer patients, there is an increasing need to learn more about possible interactions between CAM and anticancer drugs. Mistletoe (Viscum album L.) belongs to the medicinal herbs that are used as supportive care during chemotherapy. In the in vitro study presented here the effect of standardized mistletoe preparations on the cytostatic and cytotoxic activity of several common conventional chemotherapeutic drugs was investigated using different cancer cell lines.

Methods

Human breast carcinoma cell lines HCC1937 and HCC1143 were treated with doxorubicin hydrochloride, pancreas adenocarcinoma cell line PA-TU-8902 with gemcitabine hydrochloride, prostate carcinoma cell line DU145 with docetaxel and mitoxantrone hydrochloride and lung carcinoma cell line NCI-H460 was treated with docetaxel and cisplatin. Each dose of the respective chemotherapeutic drug was combined with Viscum album extract (VAE) in clinically relevant concentrations and proliferation and apoptosis were measured.

Results

VAE did not inhibit chemotherapy induced cytostasis and cytotoxicity in any of our experimental settings. At higher concentrations VAE showed an additive inhibitory effect.

Conclusions

Our in vitro results suggest that no risk of safety by herb drug interactions has to be expected from the exposition of cancer cells to chemotherapeutic drugs and VAE simultaneously.

Keywords:
Mistletoe (Viscum album L.); Iscador; Chemotherapy; Drug interactions; Cytostasis; Cytotoxicity