Bovine Cartilage

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Bovine Cartilage

Common Names

  • Bovine tracheal cartilage (BTC)

For Patients & Caregivers

How It Works

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

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. 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.

Bovine cartilage should not be confused with shark cartilage.

Purported Uses
  • To reduce swelling associated with arthritis
    Evidence is lacking to support this claim.
  • To prevent and treat cancer
    Small studies showed that bovine cartilage may have anticancer effects. But larger studies have not been conducted.
  • To treat AIDS
    Evidence is lacking to support this claim.
  • To stimulate the immune system
    Evidence is lacking to support this claim.
Side Effects
  • 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

Brand Name
Catrix-S®, Catrix®, Psoriacin®, Rumalon®
Clinical Summary

Bovine cartilage is derived from cartilage, usually the trachea, of cows. It is used to prevent and treat cancer and AIDS, and is available in supplemental forms for oral or parenteral use. In vitro studies suggest that bovine cartilage may have antitumor and immunomodulatory effects (2) (3) (6). Preliminary clinical findings suggest that it may have anticancer properties (4) (5). Larger studies have yet to be conducted.

Reported adverse 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.

Purported Uses
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer prevention
  • Cancer treatment
  • HIV and AIDS
  • Immunostimulation
Mechanism of Action

Immunomodulatory 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.
 (2)

Adverse Reactions

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)

References
  1. Cartilage (bovine and shark). National Cancer Institute.
    www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/hp/cartilage-pdq Accessed August February 20, 2020.
  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.
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Email your questions and comments to aboutherbs@mskcc.org.

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