Comparison of finasteride (Proscar), a 5 alpha reductase inhibitor, and various commercial plant extracts in in vitro and in vivo 5 alpha reductase inhibition.


Rhodes L; Primka RL; Berman C; Vergult G; Gabriel M; Pierre-Malice M;

Gibelin B


Department of Biochemistry, Merck Research Laboratories, Rahway, New Jersey 07065.


Prostate, 1993, 22:1, 43-51


Human prostate was used as a source of 5 alpha reductase. Compounds were incubated with an enzyme preparation and [3H]testosterone. [3H]-dihydrotestosterone production was measured to calculate 5 alpha reductase activity. IC50 values (ng/ml) were finasteride = 1; Permixon = 5,600; Talso = 7,000; Strogen Forte = 31,000; Prostagutt = 40,000; and Tadenan = 63,000. Bazoton and Harzol had no activity at concentrations up to 500,000 ng/ml. In castrate rats stimulated with testosterone (T) or dihydrotestosterone (DHT), finasteride, but not Permixon or Bazoton, inhibited T stimulated prostate growth, while none of the three compounds inhibited DHT stimulated growth. These results demonstrate that finasteride inhibits 5 alpha reductase, while Permixon and Bazoton have neither anti-androgen nor 5 alpha reductase inhibitory activity. In addition, in a 7 day human clinical trial, finasteride, but not Permixon or placebo, decreased serum DHT in men, further confirming the lack of 5 alpha reductase inhibition by Permixon. Finasteride and the plant extracts listed above do not inhibit the binding of DHT to the rat prostatic androgen receptor (concentrations to 100 micrograms/ml). Based on these results, it is unlikely that these plant extracts would shrink the prostate by inhibiting androgen action or 5 alpha reductase.

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