The selectivity and specificity of the actions of the lipido-sterolic extract of Serenoa repens (Permixon) on the prostate

J Urol. 2000 Sep;164(3 Pt 1):876-81. doi: 10.1097/00005392-200009010-00065.


Purpose: To investigate the effects of the phytotherapeutic agent, Permixon(R), on primary cultures of fibroblast and epithelial cells from the prostate, epididymis, testes, kidney, skin and breast and to determine the selectivity and specificity of the action of the drug.

Materials and methods: All primary cultures were examined by electron microscopy before and following treatment with Permixon(R) (10 microg./ml.). In addition the apoptotic index was assessed by flow cytometry employing propidium iodide as a fluorophore. The impact of the drug on 5alpha-reductase (5alphaR) isoenzymes was also tested utilizing a pH specific assay.

Results: There were changes in the morphology of prostate cells after treatment including accumulation of lipid in the cytoplasm and damage to the nuclear and mitochondrial membranes; no similar changes were observed in other cells. Permixon(R) increased the apoptotic index for prostate epithelial cells by 35% and 12% in the prostate stromal/fibroblast. A lesser apoptotic effect was demonstrated in skin fibroblast (3%) whereas none of the other primary cultures showed any increase in apoptosis when compared with the controls. Permixon(R) was also an effective inhibitor of both 5alphaR type I and II isoenzymes in prostate cells, but other cells showed no inhibition of 5alphaR activity following treatment with the plant extract.

Conclusions: This investigation demonstrated the selectivity of the action of Permixon(R) for prostate cells. The morphological changes in the prostate are accompanied by an increase in the apoptotic index along with an inhibition in the activity of the nuclear membrane bound 5alphaR isoenzymes. No similar changes were observed in any of the other cells under investigation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3-Oxo-5-alpha-Steroid 4-Dehydrogenase / drug effects
  • Androgen Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Breast / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Coloring Agents
  • Culture Techniques
  • Cytoplasm / drug effects
  • Epididymis / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / drug effects
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Nuclear Envelope / drug effects
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Propidium
  • Prostate / drug effects*
  • Serenoa
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Testis / drug effects


  • Androgen Antagonists
  • Coloring Agents
  • Isoenzymes
  • Plant Extracts
  • Propidium
  • 3-Oxo-5-alpha-Steroid 4-Dehydrogenase
  • saw palmetto extract