Background: Phytotherapy is a third approach for treating lower urinary tract symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The lipido-sterolic extract of the fruit of Serenoa repens is one of the more widely used phytotherapeutic agents in this regard.
Materials and methods: The effect of an ethanolic extract of S. repens (10-1000 microg/ml) was tested in hormone-sensitive LNCaP, MCF-7 and hormone-insensitive DU 145, MDA MB231 prostate, breast carcinoma cell lines, renal Caki-1, urinary bladder J82, colon HCT 116 and lung A 549 cancer cells. Its cell growth inhibitory and apoptosis-inducing effects were tested using WST-1 assay and flow cytometry (Annexin V/PI stain) and/or by colorimetric assay (APOPercentage assay).
Results: The S. repens extract induced a dose-dependent antiproliferative effect on all human malignant cells tested, with GI50 values between 107 and 327 pmicro/ml. In hormone-sensitive prostate LNCaP and breast MCF-7 cell lines, the effect of extract expressed in GI50 was 2.2- and 2.5-fold more potent (p < 0.01) than in hormone-insensitive DU 145 and MDA MB231 cells. The proportion of apoptotic cells, except in A549 cells, lay between 22.5-36.3%. S. repens extract did not induce apoptosis in lung cancer A 549 cells.
Conclusion: This study showed that the antiproliferative effect exerted by the ethanolic extract of S. repens is at least triggered by induction of apoptosis. These in vitro data provide some information that may be useful for clinical use and render S. repens extract an interesting tool for new applications.