Background: The aim of the study was to evaluate the antiproliferative potency of Viscum album extract (VA-E) in human bladder carcinoma cell lines with regard to its possible use for intravesical therapy of superficial bladder cancer.
Materials and methods: Proliferation (MTT-test or 3H-thymidine incorporation), necrotic disintegration (3H-thymidine release of prelabelled cells) and portions of apoptotic and/or necrotic cells (Annexin-V binding, propidium iodide (PI) labelling and DNA-fluorescence profiles by flow cytometry) were measured in four different human bladder carcinoma cell lines (T24, TCCSUP, J82 and UM-UC3) cultured in vitro.
Results: Antiproliferative effects of VA-E were observed in the four bladder carcinoma cell lines tested. Metabolic activity could also be completely abrogated by short-time contact of the cells with VA-E. Apoptosis and necrosis, as underlying mechanisms of action, were differentially expressed by the different cell lines.
Conclusion: VA-E and cytotoxic proteins, i.e., mistletoe lectins (ML) and viscotoxins (VT), were able to block the growth of bladder carcinoma cells. Together with the immunomodulating properties of VA-E, the observed antiproliferative potency might give a rationale for the topical intravesical application of VA-E for the treatment of superficial bladder cancer.