Bovine Cartilage

Bovine Cartilage

Common Names

  • Bovine tracheal cartilage (BTC)

For Patients & Caregivers

There is no clinical evidence to support the use of bovine cartilage for the treatment of cancer or HIV.

The use of cartilage products for treating 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 occur 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. It has also been suggested that bovine cartilage can enhance immune response as well, but this effect has not been shown in humans.

  • 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.
  • 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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For Healthcare Professionals

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

Bovine cartilage is derived from cartilage, usually the trachea, of cows. It is used to prevent and treat cancer and treat HIV/AIDS; it may be administered via oral and parenteral routes. In vitro studies suggest that 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 reported effects include changes in taste perception, fatigue, dizziness, and dyspepsia. Inflammation and irritation at injection sites are common following parenteral administration (3) (4) (5).

Bovine cartilage should not be confused with shark cartilage.

  • Arthritis
  • Cancer prevention
  • Cancer treatment
  • HIV and AIDS
  • Immunostimulation

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

Bovine cartilage should not be confused with shark cartilage.

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)

None reported.

  1. Cartilage (bovine and shark). National Cancer Institute. Accessed August 27, 2015.

  2. Rosen J. Immunoregulatory effects of Catrix. J Biol Response Mod 1988;7:498-512.

  3. Prudden JF. The treatment of human cancer with agents prepared from bovine cartilage. J Bio Response Mod 1985;4:5551-84.

  4. Romano CF, et al. A phase II study of Catrix-S in solid tumors. J Biol Response Mod 1985;4:585-9.

  5. 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.

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