Bovine Cartilage

Health Care Professional Information

Common Name

Bovine tracheal cartilage (BTC)

Brand Name

Catrix-S®, Catrix®, Psoriacin®, Rumalon®

Clinical Summary

Derived from the cartilage, usually the trachea, of cows. This product should not be confused with shark cartilage Bovine cartilage is used to prevent and treat cancer and treat HIV/AIDS; it may be administered via oral and parenteral routes. Several in vitro studies suggest bovine cartilage may have antitumor and immunoregulatory effects (2) (3) (6). Few published clinical trials demonstrate its efficacy (4) (5).
Nausea and vomiting are commonly reported adverse events. Other effects reported include changes in taste perception, fatigue, dizziness, and dyspepsia. Inflammation and irritation at injection sites are common following parenteral administration. No drug interactions are known.

Purported Uses
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer prevention
  • Cancer treatment
  • HIV and AIDS
  • Immunostimulation
Constituents
  • Acidic mucopolysaccharide complex: Glycosaminoglycans, primarily chondroitin sulfate, polysaccharides
    (1)
Mechanism of Action

Immunoregulatory effects are believed to enhance antibody responses to T-independent and T-dependent antigens, indicating that its activity is due in part to a direct effect on B cells or an indirect effect mediated by macrophages. It is believed to support the resynthesis of cartilage in osteoarthritis.
(2)

Warnings

Bovine cartilage should not be confused with shark cartilage

Adverse Reactions

Common: Nausea and vomiting are the primary adverse effects.
Reported: Altered sense of taste, fatigue, dyspepsia, fever, dizziness, and edema of the scrotum following treatment with Catrix® bovine cartilage product
Common (parenteral only): Inflammation and redness at injection site
(3) (4) (5)

Herb-Drug Interactions

None reported

Literature Summary and Critique

Existing data on bovine cartilage data are inconclusive and mostly testimonial. Well designed clinical trials are needed.
 

Dosage (Inside MSKCC Only)
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References
  1. Cartilage (bovine and shark). National Cancer Institute web site at http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cartilage. Accessed August 28, 2009.
  2. Rosen J. Immunoregulatory effects of Catrix. J Biol Response Mod 1988;7:498-512.
  3. Prudden JF, Balassa LL. The biological activity of bovine cartilage preparations. Clinical demonstration of their potent anti-inflammatory capacity with supplementary notes on certain relevant fundamental supportive studies. Semin Arthritis Rheum 1974;3:287-321.
  4. Prudden JF. The treatment of human cancer with agents prepared from bovine cartilage. J Bio Response Mod 1985;4:5551-84.
  5. Romano CF, et al. A phase II study of Catrix-S in solid tumors. J Biol Response Mod 1985;4:585-9.
  6. Durie BG, Soehnlen B, Prudden JF. Antitumor activity of bovine cartilage extract (Catrix-S) in the human tumor stem cell assay. J Biol Response Mod 1985 Dec;4(6):590-5.

Consumer Information

How It Works

Bottom Line: There is no proof that bovine cartilage can treat cancer or HIV.

Relatively little laboratory experimentation has been done with bovine cartilage. The use of cartilage products against cancer partially stems from the theory that since cartilage does not contain blood vessels, it must contain substances that would prevent the growth of blood vessels around tumors, a process known as angiogenesis. There is some laboratory support for the anti-angiogenic properties of shark cartilage, but almost none for bovine cartilage. Catrix®, a bovine cartilage product, was used in a laboratory experiment against isolated samples of several cancer cell lines, with positive results at high doses. However, there is still little evidence that these anti-cancer effects can take place in the human body.

Because bovine cartilage supplements may contain the same specialized proteins that make up human cartilage, they might assist with the resynthesis of cartilage in people with osteoarthritis. This theory has not been borne out in humans in clinical trials, however. It has been suggested that bovine cartilage can enhance immune response as well, but this effect has not been shown in humans.

Purported Uses
  • To reduce swelling associated with arthritis
    No scientific evidence supports this use.
  • To prevent and treat cancer
    Although a few laboratory studies supported this use, clinical studies are lacking.
  • To treat HIV and AIDS
    There is no scientific evidence to support this use.
  • To stimulate the immune system
    There are no clinical data to validate this claim.
Side Effects
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Altered sense of taste
  • Fatigue
  • Upset stomach
  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Swelling of the scrotum
  • When injected, swelling and redness at the injection site
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