- 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.
For Healthcare Professionals
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.
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.