Ethnopharmacological relevance: Deer antler base (Cervus, Lu Jiao Pan) has been recorded in the Chinese medical classics Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing 2000 years ago and is believed to nourish the Yin, tonify the kidney, invigorate the spleen, strengthen bones and muscles, and promote blood flow. In China, deer antler base has been extensively used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to treat a variety of diseases including mammary hyperplasia, mastitis, uterine fibroids, malignant sores and children's mumps.
Aim of the review: We provide an up-to-date and comprehensive overview of the traditional uses, chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology and clinical trials of deer antler base in order to explore its therapeutic potentials and future research needs.
Background and methods: The pharmacological value of deer antler base was ignored for many years while researchers concentrated on the pharmacological value of velvet antler. However, more recently, scientists have carried out a great number of chemical, pharmacological and clinical studies on deer antler base. The present review covers the literature available from 1980 to 2012. All relevant information on deer antler base was collected from ancient Chinese herbal classics, pharmacopoeias, formularies, scientific journals, books, theses and reports via a library and electronic search by using PubMed, Google Scholar, Web of Science, Science Direct, and CNKI (in Chinese).
Key findings: Both in vitro and in vivo pharmacological studies have demonstrated that deer antler base possess immunomodulatory, anti-cancer, anti-fatigue, anti-osteoporosis, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-stress, anti-oxidant, hypoglycemic, hematopoietic modulatory activities and the therapeutic effect on mammary hyperplasia. Although the mechanism of actions is still not clear, the pharmacological activities could be mainly attributed to the major bioactive compounds amino acids, polypeptides and proteins. Based on animal studies and clinical trials, deer antler base causes no severe side effects.
Conclusions: Deer antler base has emerged as a good source of traditional medicine. However, further investigations are needed to explore individual bioactive compounds responsible for these in vitro and in vivo pharmacological effects and its mechanism of actions. Further safety assessments and clinical trials in humans need to be performed before it can be integrated into medicinal practices. The present review has provided preliminary information for further studies and commercial exploitations of deer antler base.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.