Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Mistletoe Extracts (PDQ®)

General Information

Mistletoe, a semiparasitic plant, holds interest as a potential anticancer agent because extracts derived from it have been shown to kill cancer cells in vitro [1-15] Reviewed in [16,17] and to stimulate immune system cells both in vitro and in vivo. [18-48] Reviewed in [17,49-60] Two components of mistletoe, namely viscotoxins and lectins, may be responsible for these effects.[1,4,7,9-11,13,24,26-28,30-33,35,36,38-42,46-48,61-63] Reviewed in [16,17,43,49-52,54-59,64-67] Viscotoxins are small proteins that exhibit cell-killing activity and possible immune-system–stimulating activity.[7,13,47,48] Reviewed in [50,64]

Lectins are complex molecules made of both protein and carbohydrates that are capable of binding to the outside of cells (for example, immune system cells) and inducing biochemical changes in them. Reviewed in [17,51,56,68-71] In view of mistletoe’s ability to stimulate the immune system, it has been classified as a type of biological response modifier. Reviewed in [51] Biological response modifiers constitute a diverse group of biological molecules that have been used individually, or in combination with other agents, to treat cancer or to lessen the side effects of anticancer drugs.

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