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A Pollen Extract (Cernilton) in Patients with Inflammatory Chronic Prostatitis–Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome: A Multicentre, Randomised, Prospective, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Phase 3 Study

Florian M.E. Wagenlehner a,*, Henning Schneider a, Martin Ludwig a, Jo¨rg Schnitker b,
Elmar Bra¨hler c, Wolfgang Weidner
a

a Clinic for Urology, Paediatric Urology and Andrology, Justus-Liebig-University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany
b Institute for Applied Statistics Ltd., Bielefeld, Germany
c Institute for Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany

 

Accepted 25 May 2009, Published online 3 June 2009, pages 544 - 551


Abstract

Background

National Institutes of Health (NIH) category III prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) is a prevalent condition for which no standardised treatment exists.

Objectives

To assess the safety and efficacy of a standardised pollen extract in men with inflammatory CP/CPPS.

Design, setting, and participants

We conducted a multicentre, prospective, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 study comparing the pollen extract (Cernilton) to placebo in men with CP/CPPS (NIH IIIA) attending urologic centres.

Intervention

Participants were randomised to receive oral capsules of the pollen extract (two capsules q8 h) or placebo for 12 wk.

Measurements

The primary endpoint of the study was symptomatic improvement in the pain domain of the NIH Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Index (NIH-CPSI). Participants were evaluated using the NIH-CPSI individual domains and total score, the number of leukocytes in post–prostatic massage urine (VB3), the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS), and the sexuality domain of a life satisfaction questionnaire at baseline and after 6 and 12 wk.

Results and limitations

In the intention-to-treat analysis, 139 men were randomly allocated to the pollen extract (n = 70) or placebo (n = 69). The individual domains pain (p = 0.0086) and quality of life (QoL; p = 0.0250) as well as the total NIH-CPSI score (p = 0.0126) were significantly improved after 12 wk of treatment with pollen extract compared to placebo. Response, defined as a decrease of the NIH-CPSI total score by at least 25% or at least 6 points, was seen in the pollen extract versus placebo group in 70.6% and 50.0% (p = 0.0141), respectively. Adverse events were minor in all patients studied.

Conclusions

Compared to placebo, the pollen extract significantly improved total symptoms, pain, and QoL in patients with inflammatory CP/CPPS without severe side-effects.

1. Introduction

Prostatitis syndrome is characterised by genitourinary pain and lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) [1]. The prevalence of symptoms suggestive of prostatitis ranges between 2.2% and 13.8% according to different studies [2]. National Institutes of Health (NIH) category III prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) is the most frequent subtype, with a heterogeneous and mainly unknown aetiology. Classification of prostatitis syndrome is based on the clinical presentation of the patient, the presence or absence of white blood cells in the expressed prostatic secretion (EPS), post–prostatic massage urine (VB3) or seminal plasma, and the presence or absence of bacteria in the EPS or VB3 [1]. In the NIH classification bacterial prostatitis (acute and chronic) is distinguished from inflammatory and noninflammatory CP/CPPS [3].

Evidence-based treatment of CP/CPPS has been difficult because of the heterogeneous patient population in this syndrome. Even the seemingly proven use of α-blocker therapy in naïve patients [2] is now in dispute [4]. Phytotherapeutic agents such as pollen extract, quercetin, or saw palmetto are widely used with variable success [5], and [6] but have only rarely been evaluated in suitable clinical trials.

The pollen extract Cernilton contains 63 mg of the defined pollen extract fractions Cernitin T60 (water-soluble fraction) and Cernitin GBX (fat-soluble fraction). These fractions contain carbohydrates, fat, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals and have been used for treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia [7] and prostatitis [5], and [8]. Experimental data in nonbacterial prostatitis in rats showed that Cernitin GBX protects mainly acinar epithelial cells and inhibits stromal proliferation in association with an enhanced apoptosis mediated by Cernitin T60 [9]. In a further study, a dose-dependent anti-inflammatory action in nonbacterial prostatitis in rats was noted, leading to decreased levels of interleukin-1β, interleukin-6, and tumour necrosis factor α, which decreases glandular inflammation and might be responsible for the decrease in proliferation and increase of apoptosis seen in the prostate [10]. A further in vitro study found an inhibition of the arachidonic acid cascade [11]; another possible effect on the prostate is via the androgen metabolism [12]. In three noncomparative clinical studies in 90, 24, and 15 patients with CP/CPPS treated with pollen extract, improvement of symptoms was noted in 78%, 63%, and 86%, respectively [5], [8], and [13]. To our knowledge, however, no placebo-controlled study comparing pollen extract has been performed so far. This investigator-initiated (W.W.) study was designed to ascertain the safety and efficacy of pollen extract versus placebo in a clearly defined population of men diagnosed with inflammatory CP/CPPS.

2. Patients and methods

2.1. Study design

This double-blind, prospective, randomised, placebo-controlled, multicentre, clinical phase 3 study was conducted according to Good Clinical Practice (GCP) in 34 German urologic centres to ascertain the safety and efficacy of 12-wk pollen extract versus placebo in men diagnosed with inflammatory CP/CPPS. The study protocol was approved by the ethical committee of the Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen, Germany. The design of the study was in accordance with the guidelines for clinical trials in CP/CPPS described by the NIH Chronic Prostatitis Collaborative Research Network [14].

Inclusion criteria were (1) men between 18 and 65 yr of age with symptoms of pelvic pain for at least 3 mo during the 6 mo before study entry, (2) a score in the pain domain of the German-validated version of the NIH Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Index (NIH-CPSI) [15] of ≥7, and (3) leukocytes of ≥10 in VB3 (field of vision: ×400). Exclusion criteria were (1) urinary tract infection; (2) acute bacterial or chronic bacterial prostatitis at study entry (bacteriuria ≥104 colony-forming units (CFU)/ml in midstream urine (VB2) or ≥103 CFU/ml in VB3); (3) history of urethritis, with discharge 4 wk prior to study entry; (4) a history of epididymitis or sexually transmitted disease (STD); (5) residual urine volume >50 ml resulting from bladder outlet obstruction (BOO); (6) indication for or history of prostate surgery, including prostate biopsy; (7) history of urogenital cancer; (8) treatment with phytotherapeutic agents, α-blocker agents, or antimicrobial substances with prostatic penetration 4 wk prior to study entry; and (9) treatment with agents influencing intraprostatic hormone metabolism 6 mo prior to study entry. The above-listed substances were not allowed during the full study course, nor were any other accompanying treatments that could influence the study aims.

2.2. Study procedure

At the start of the 1-wk screening phase, after giving written informed consent, patients were evaluated using a detailed medical history, including German-validated versions of the NIH-CPSI [15], the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) [16], and the sexuality domain of a life satisfaction questionnaire [17], and [18], as well as a physical examination, including prostate, external genitalia, vital parameters, routine laboratory tests, measurement of residual urine volume by ultrasound, and a standardised four-glass test localisation study [19]. Patients included in the screening phase were pretreated with azithromycin (250 mg q6h) for 1 d to eliminate atypical pathogens.

After 1 wk, the inclusion criteria were rechecked, and patients were included in the treatment phase when both conditions—pain domain of NIH-CPSI ≥7 and leukocytes ≥10 in VB3—were fulfilled. Patients were then allocated to receive either pollen extract (two capsules q8h, with the active substance consisting of 60 mg Cernitin T60 and 3 mg Cernitin GBX) or placebo (two capsules q8h, with identical capsulation and weight only containing the inactive substances in proportional doses as compared with the pollen extract) in a randomised order. Randomisation was carried out in blocks (n = 4) within the centre using a random number generator. The study medication was manufactured in accordance with the random scheme and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and was labelled in accordance with regional law (AMG). The investigators were instructed to use the study drug in ascendant order of random numbers available in the respective trial centre.

NIH-CPSI (0–43) with its subscales (pain domain [0–21], micturition domain [0–10], and quality of life [QoL] domain [0–12]), IPSS (0–35), the sexuality domain of a life satisfaction questionnaire (0–42), a standard urologic examination, and the four-glass test were carried out at weeks 0 (before start of study drug), 6, and 12 (end of study drug). Residual urine was measured at weeks 0 and 12. At week 12 or at premature study end, a global assessment of the efficacy of treatment defined by five items (very good, good, moderate, bad, very bad) was collected from the patient and the corresponding physician.

Adverse events were documented during the whole course of study. Tolerability was assessed at study end by patient and physician using a scale with four items (very good, good, moderate, bad).

2.3. Statistical analysis and assessments

The primary target of the study was symptomatic improvement in the pain domain of the NIH-CPSI. This parameter had to be evaluated one sided in a statistical design according to Bauer and Köhne [20] with two sample size adaptive interim analyses. Secondary outcomes included symptomatic improvement of the NIH-CPSI total score and the micturition and QoL domains of the NIH-CPSI questionnaire as well as a decrease in the number of leukocytes in VB3. Further explorative outcome criteria were changes in the IPSS, the sexuality domain of the life satisfaction questionnaire, residual urine volume, and safety of the study drug. Additionally, qualitative efficacy parameters based on NIH-CPSI—namely, improvement of NIH-CPSI summary score by ≥ 25% and improvement of NIH-CPSI summary score by at least 6 points—were introduced as recommended by Nickel et al [21].

Usual methods of two-group comparisons were employed: student t test, Wilcoxon rank sum test, χ2 test, and analysis of covariance with baseline values as covariates. The sample size estimation was based on a treatment difference of at least 3 ± 7 score points, a power of 1-β = 0.8, and a significance level of α = 0.025 one sided. At least 87 patients should be enrolled in each trial group. Using a three-stage adaptive procedure according to Bauer and Köhne [20], superiority of pollen extract versus placebo could be demonstrated with 70 (active) and 69 (placebo) patients.

3. Results

3.1. Disposition of patients

Thirty-seven of 176 screened patients were not included into the intention to treat (ITT) set of this trial (12 screening failures, 9 treatment failures [wrong allocation of trial drug], 4 GCP failures within one centre [cessation of the trial, no open access to study data], and 12 early drop-outs [no data postrandomisation] were identified). The analyses were carried out in the ITT (pollen extract: n = 70; placebo: n = 69) and in the per protocol (PP) population (pollen extract: n = 51; placebo: n = 60). Exclusions from the PP analysis were predominantly justified by bacterial infections at baseline, violations of the inclusion criteria regarding pain and leukocytes in VB3, and premature trial termination not due to efficacy reasons

GCP = Good Clinical Practice; ITT = intention to treat; VB3 = post–prostatic massage urine; NIH-CPSI = National Institutes of Health Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Index; PP = per protocol.

3.2. Baseline characteristics

During the screening period between week −1 and week 0 (pretreatment with azithromycin), a slight improvement of the clinical signs was observed: The mean scores of NIH-CPSI decreased from 21.0 ± 5.0 to 19.8 ± 5.2, of IPSS from 8.5 ± 6.0 to 7.9 ± 5.9, of the sexuality domain of the life satisfaction questionnaire from 2.4 ± 1.2 to 2.3 ± 1.1, and of leukocytes in VB3 from 18.0 ± 9.8 to 16.7 ± 9.5. Baseline demographic characteristics and clinical parameters at week 0 are listed in Table 1. There were no significant differences between the two groups at the start of the double-blind treatment.

Table 1 Baseline characteristics and clinical parameters at week 0*

Parameters Pollen extract (N = 70) Placebo (N = 69) Overall (N = 139)
Patient age, yr (range) 39.7 ± 7.2 (20–54) 39.3 ± 9.1 (18–63) 39.5 ± 8.1 (18–63)
Height, cm 180 ± 8 178 ± 7 179 ± 7
Weight, kg 82.7 ± 12.2 81.2 ± 11.8 81.9 ± 12.0
Duration of disease, yr 4.4 ± 5.2 4.9 ± 6.2 4.6 ± 5.7
Duration of current symptoms, mo 7.6 ± 10.7 9.0 ± 16.0 8.3 ± 13.6
Prior medication (%) 29 (41%) 32 (46%) 61 (44%)
 
NIH-CPSI 19.3 ± 5.1 20.3 ± 5.2 19.8 ± 5.2
Pain domain 10.0 ± 2.4 10.2 ± 2.6 10.1 ± 2.5
Micturition domain 2.8 ± 2.3 3.5 ± 2.5 3.2 ± 2.4
QoL domain 6.5 ± 2.5 6.7 ± 2.2 6.6 ± 2.4
 
IPSS 7.3 ± 5.3 8.5 ± 6.4 7.9 ± 5.9
Sexuality domain of life satisfaction questionnaire 2.2 ± 1.2 2.3 ± 1.1 2.3 ± 1.1
Leukocytes (field of vision: × 400) in VB3 17.7 ± 11.9 15.7 ± 6.4 16.7 ± 9.5
Residual urine volume, ml
11.9 ± 13.9 10.8 ± 12.3 11.4 ± 13.1

NIH-CPSI = National Institutes of Health Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Index; QoL = quality of life; IPSS = International Prostate Symptom Score; VB3 = post–prostatic massage urine; SD = standard deviation.

* Plus–minus values are means plus or minus SD. For NIH-CPSI, higher scores indicate more severe symptoms. The following score ranges are used: total score 0–43, pain score 0–21, urinary score 0–10, QoL score 0–12. For IPSS, higher scores indicate more severe symptoms on micturition; score range is 0–35. For the sexuality domain of the life satisfaction questionnaire, the score range is 1–7, and a lower score indicates less sexual satisfaction.

Analgesics, antiphlogistics, antibiotics, anticholinergics, phytotherapeutics, α-blockers (median duration since last intake: 21 wk; minimum: 5 wk; maximum: 302 wk).

Measurement at week −1.

Localisation and circumstances of pain at baseline were indicated as (1) pain in the lower abdomen (71%); (2) pain in the perineum (64%); (3) pain in the testicles (55%); (4) pain in the tip of the penis (46%); (5) painful ejaculation (55%); (6) and painful micturition (46%).

3.3. Primary analysis

Using the preplanned primary outcome analysis procedure, a significant superiority of pollen extract versus placebo could be established at the third step (p = 0.0080). The rest of the results section show the overall findings in the total study population without consideration for the preplanned sequential construction analysis plan.

3.4. Changes from baseline in the National Institutes of Health Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Index

After 12 wk of treatment, the mean changes (plus or minus standard error [SE]) from baseline in the pain domain of the NIH-CPSI were −4.50 ± 0.42 in the pollen extract and −2.92 ± 0.42 in the placebo group. The higher improvement in the pollen extract group compared to placebo was statistically significant (ITT: −1.58 ± 0.59, p = 0.0086; Table 2). In the PP set, the treatment difference amounted to −2.14 ± 0.63 (p = 0.0009; Fig. 2).

Table 2 Efficacy outcomes at week 12 in the intention to treat (ITT) and per protocol (PP) sets*

Parameter     Pollen extract Placebo Treatment difference
NIH-CPSI Pain domain ITT 68 −4.50 ± 0.42 69 −2.92 ± 0.42 −1.58 ± 0.59 p = 0.0086
N, adj. mean ± SE PP 51 −4.93 ± 0.46 60 −2.79 ± 0.43 −2.14 ± 0.63 p = 0.0009
Micturition domain ITT 68 −1.02 ± 0.19 69 −0.86 ± 0.19 −0.17 ± 0.27 p = 0.5469
N, adj. mean ± SE PP 51 −1.27 ± 0.21 60 −0.82 ± 0.19 −0.46 ± 0.29 p = 0.1173
QoL domain ITT 68 −2.23 ± 0.27 68 −1.35 ± 0.27 −0.88 ± 0.39 p = 0.0250
N, adj. mean ± SE PP 51 −2.62 ± 0.30 59 −1.12 ± 0.28 −1.50 ± 0.41 p = 0.0005
• Total score ITT 68 −7.66 ± 0.70 68 −5.16 ± 0.70 −2.49 ± 0.99 p = 0.0126
N, adj. mean ± SEM PP 51 −8.72 ± 0.77 59 −4.77 ± 0.72 −3.95 ± 1.06 p = 0.0003
• 25% decrease in NIH-CPSI ITT 68 69.1% 68 48.5% p = 0.0147
N, % PP 51 76.5% 59 47.5% p = 0.0019
• Six-point decrease in NIH-CPSI ITT 68 61.8% 68 42.6%   p = 0.0256
N, % PP 51 66.7% 59 40.7% p = 0.0065
 
IPSS   ITT 69 −2.29 ± 0.44 69 −1.15 ± 0.44 −1.14 ± 0.63 p = 0.0711
N, adj. mean ± SE   PP 51 −2.52 ± 0.54 60 −0.99 ± 0.50 −1.53 ± 0.74 p = 0.0418
Sexuality domain of life satisfaction questionnaire   ITT 69 −0.30 ± 0.09 68 −0.17 ± 0.09 −0.13 ± 0.13 p = 0.2964
N, adj. mean ± SE   PP 51 −0.25 ± 0.10 59 −0.15 ± 0.09 −0.10 ± 0.14 p = 0.4658
Leukocytes in VB3   ITT 70 −5.0 69 −3.0 −2.0
p = 0.1243
N, median   PP 51 −7.0 60 −4.5 −3.0† p = 0.0876

NIH-CPSI = National Institutes of Health-Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Score; adj. = adjusted; SE = standard error; QoL = quality of life; IPSS = International Prostate Symptom Score; SEM = standard error of the mean; VB3 = post–prostatic massage urine.

* For the NIH-CPSI, higher scores indicate more severe symptoms; for the QoL domain, higher scores indicate a more negative effect; for the IPSS, higher scores indicate more severe symptoms; for the sexuality domain of the life satisfaction questionnaire, a lower score indicates less sexual satisfaction.

Hodges–Lehmann estimate of shift parameters.

Exact Mann-Whitney test.


Fig. 2 Mean change (plus or minus standard error [SE]) from baseline in the National Institutes of Health Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Index (NIH-CPSI) pain domain and in the NIH-CPSI total score after 6 and 12 wk of treatment with pollen extract (Cernilton group) or placebo (per-protocol group).

The mean NIH-CPSI total score decreased from 19.18 to 11.72 in the pollen extract group and from 20.31 to 14.94 in the placebo group. There was a significantly higher baseline-adjusted improvement in the pollen extract group (−7.66 ± 0.70) compared to placebo (ITT: −5.16 ± 0.70, p = 0.0126; Table 2). In the PP set, the treatment difference was −3.95 ± 1.06 (p = 0.0003; Fig. 2). A definite improvement over baseline can be determined by a 25% decrease of the NIH-CPSI total score [21]. There was a significantly greater percentage of patients in the pollen extract group who demonstrated 25% improvement compared to the placebo group (ITT: 69.1% vs 48.5%, p = 0.0147; Table 2). Analysis of the percentage of patients who demonstrated a six-point decrease from baseline in the total score yielded a similar conclusion (ITT: 61.8% vs 42.6%, p = 0.0256; Table 2).

The micturition domain of the NIH-CPSI improved in both groups. A slightly higher improvement in the pollen extract group compared to placebo was not statistically significant (ITT: p = 0.5469; PP: p = 0.1173; Table 2).

The mean QoL domain of the NIH-CPSI decreased from 6.44 to 4.26 in the pollen extract group and from 6.68 to 5.28 in the placebo group. The baseline-adjusted improvement was significantly higher in the pollen extract group (−2.23 ± 0.27) compared to placebo (ITT: −1.35 ± 0.27, p = 0.0250; Table 2). In the PP set, the treatment difference was −1.50 ± 0.41 (p = 0.0005; Table 2).

3.5. Changes from baseline in International Prostate Symptom Score

The mean IPSS improved in both groups. A tendency in favour of pollen extract was statistically significant in the PP set only (ITT: p = 0.0711; PP: −1.53 ± 0.74, p = 0.0418; Table 2).

3.6. Changes from baseline in the sexuality domain of the life satisfaction questionnaire

The mean sexuality domain of the life satisfaction questionnaire decreased in both groups. A slightly higher improvement in the pollen extract group compared to placebo was not statistically significant (ITT: p = 0.2964; PP: p = 0.4658; Table 2).

3.7. Changes from baseline in leukocytes in post–prostatic massage urine

The mean changes from baseline in the number of leukocytes per field of vision were 5.0 in the pollen extract group and 3.0 in the placebo group. The Hodges–Lehmann estimate of the shift parameter from placebo to pollen extract was 2.0 (ITT: p = 0.1243; Table 2). In the PP set, the shift amounted to −3.0 (p = 0.0876; Table 2); neither change was significant.

3.8. Changes from baseline in residual urine volume

Residual urine volume was ≤50 ml in all patients at any time measured, and there was no significant change from baseline or difference between groups.

3.9. Assessment of efficacy

The global assessment of efficacy by the patient showed significantly higher rates of very good or good results in the pollen extract group (ITT: 62.9%; PP: 68.6%) as compared to placebo (ITT: 41.8%; PP: 36.7%; Table 3). Regarding the global assessment of efficacy by the physician, a significant treatment difference was seen in the PP set only (pollen extract 74.5%; placebo: 53.3%; Table 3).

Table 3 Assessment of efficacy and tolerability

Set Parameter   Pollen extract Placebo
Efficacy
ITT Patient assessment, no. (%) Good to very good 44 (62.9%) 28 (41.8%)
(p = 0.0136) Very bad to moderate 26 (37.1%) 39 (58.2%)
Missing values 2
Investigator assessment, no. (%) Good to very good 48 (69.6%) 39 (58.2%)
(p = 0.1679) Very bad to moderate 21 (30.4%) 28 (41.8%)
Missing values 1 2
 
PP Patient assessment, no. (%) Good to very good 35 (68.6%) 22 (36.7%)
(p = 0.0008) Very bad to moderate 16 (31.4%) 38 (63.3%)
Investigator assessment, no. (%) Good to very good 38 (74.5%) 32 (53.3%)
(p = 0.0212) Very bad to moderate 13 (25.5%) 28 (46.7%)
 
Tolerability
ITT Patient assessment, no. (%) Very good 51 (72.9%) 49 (73.1%)
(p = 0.7513) Good 15 (21.4%) 16 (23.9%)
Moderate 3 (4.3%) 2 (3.0%)
Bad 1 (1.4%)
Missing values 2
ITT Investigator assessment, no. (%) Very good 52 (74.3%) 50 (74.6%)
(p = 0.2122) Good 15 (21.4%) 17 (25.4%)
Moderate 3 (4.3%)
Bad
Missing values 2

ITT = intention to treat; PP = per protocol.

3.10. Adverse events, physical examination, safety laboratory

Adverse events were reported in 12.9% of patients for pollen extract and 14.5% of patients for placebo (p = 0.7790). No statistically significant differences were seen between groups on the level of MedDRA System Organ Class. No or an unlikely causal relationship with study medication was noted in the majority of events. In only two patients—both treated with pollen extract—adverse events possibly attributable to study drug were documented: mild gastrointestinal disorders that caused a short treatment interruption and moderate pain (not otherwise specified) that caused discontinuation of treatment. Serious adverse events were reported in three patients in the pollen extract group and in two patients in the placebo group. All serious adverse events were hospitalisations resulting from concomitant illnesses and not attributed to study drug administration. Physical examinations, including vital signs, and the laboratory examinations showed no relevant changes from baseline.

3.11. Assessment of tolerability

In both study groups, the tolerability was rated very good in >70% of patients (Table 3).

4. Discussion

Although antibiotic treatment is the standard treatment for chronic bacterial prostatitis [22], there is no standard
treatment of CP/CPPS to date [23,24]. Even the evidence to recommend a-blocker therapies [2] is now in dispute [4]. Apart from that, a variety of other treatment options are reported, such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatory agents, phytotherapeutics, and various other modalities [5,8,21,25–29]. All treatment modalities, however, showed rather limited effects on the symptoms experienced in CP/CPPS, of
which pain and dysfunctional voiding cause the greatest morbidity and a poor QoL [30]. Given the lack of proven
efficacy of conventional therapies, alternative treatment options are urgently needed. Additionally, long-term
treatment is usually conducted for CP/CPPS patients. Therefore, phytotherapeutics— amongst which are pollen
extract, quercetin, saw palmetto, or terpenes—are an interesting option because of their generally low side effects; however, few have been subjected to scientific scrutiny and prospective controlled clinical trials [8,26–28].
    Cernilton, a standardised pollen extract mixture, has been used for treatment of CP/CPPS for almost 20 yr [8,13]. The exact mechanism of action is largely unknown; however, an anti-inflammatory potential associated with cyclo-oxygenase and lipoxygenase inhibition is discussed and substantiated by in vitro experiments [9–11] and could be beneficial for patients with CP/CPPS [31].
    This study is the first to compare pollen extract to placebo in a large, clearly definedpatient cohort.The study focusedon inflammatory CP/CPPS (NIH category IIIA), because elevated numbers of leukocytes in VB3 are indicative of an inflammatory prostatitis syndrome [32] and therefore defines a clear study cohort. To exclude possible contamination of this study cohort by infection with atypical pathogens, a 1-wk run-in phase, during which all patients were treated with azithromycin, was introduced before assessment of baseline
and start of study drug medication. To exclude patients with LUTS resulting from BOO, patients with elevated residual urine (>50 ml) were also excluded.
    Both study groups experienced progressive improvement in symptoms over 12 wk as measured by the NIH-CPSI total score and the subdomains pain, micturition, and QoL. However, the pollen extract group has significantly more improvement for the NIH-CPSI total score and the subdomains pain and QoL than did the placebo group. Interestingly, the differences between the two groups became significant after the sixth week (Fig. 2), suggesting that a long treatment period is required in this condition. Clinically significant improvement, as defined by a 25% (or six-point) improvement of the NIH-CPSI total score and a three-point improvement in the pain subdomain, was only seen in the pollen extract group, not in the placebo group (Table 2). The micturition subdomain of the NIH-CPSI did not reveal any significant difference concerning the improvement
between the treatment groups, probably because symptoms in the micturition domain were generally low,
which was also substantiated by the rather low sy mptoms in the IPSS (Table 2). The same holds true for the sexuality domain of the life satisfaction questionnaire. The global assessment on the efficacy of the treatment by the patient also exhibited a significantly better improvement for pollen extract compared to placebo.
    Interestingly, the leukocytes in VB3 also showed a decrease in both arms. The meaning of cellular markers of
inflammation in prostate secretions or VB3 in patients with CP/CPPS is still unclear, although the improvement of symptoms in this study was accompanied by a reduction of leukocytes in VB3. However, as there was no significant difference between the two groups, leukocytes cannot be correlated with clinical success in this study.
The pollen extract was generally well tolerated over the full study period.

5. Conclusions

This placebo-controlled study showed that 12 wk of pollen extract in men diagnosed with inflammatory CP/CPPS (NIH category IIIA) resulted in a significantly higher symptom improvement compared to placebo and was well tolerated. This symptom improvement was mainly the result of a significant response in the pain symptomatology, which  consequently led to a significant improvement in the total NIH-CPSI score and the QoL subdomain but not in the micturition subdomain. Pollen extract can therefore be recommended for patients with CP/CPPS in the dosage and duration studied.

Author contributions: Florian M.E. Wagenlehner had full access to all the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Study concept and design: Wagenlehner, Weidner.
Acquisition of data: Wagenlehner, Ludwig, Schneider, Weidner.
Analysis and interpretation of data: Wagenlehner, Schnitker, Bra¨ hler.
Drafting of the manuscript: Wagenlehner.
Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content:
Wagenlehner, Weidner.
Statistical analysis: Schnitker.

Obtaining funding: Weidner, Wagenlehner.
Administrative, technical, or material support: Bra¨hler.
Supervision: Weidner.
Other (specify): None.

Financial disclosures: I certify that all conflicts of interest, including specific financial interests and relationships and affiliations relevant
to the subject matter or materials discussed in the manuscript (eg, employment/ affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria,
stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, or patents filed, received, or pending), are the following: None.


Funding/Support and role of the sponsor
: This study was supported by an unrestricted grant by Strathmann AG&Co, Hamburg, Germany. Cernelle, A¨ngelholm, Sweden, supported the statistical analysis with an unrestricted grant. These sponsors contributed to the design and conduct of the study as well as data collection. W. Weidner and F.M.E. Wagenlehner received travel support for abstract publication from Strathmann AG&Co and Cernelle.


Acknowledgement statement: We thank C. Nickel (Department of Urology, Queen’s University, Kingston General Hospital, Kingston,
Canada) for critical review of the manuscript. Parts of this manuscript (data on the valid case collective) were presented at the 2006 Annual
Meeting of the American Urological Association (20–25 May 2006, Atlanta, GA, USA) [33] and at the 24th Annual European Association of
Urology Congress (17–21 March 2009, Stockholm, Sweden) [34].

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, unique protocol ID: 4015497. The following 34 urologic centres in Germany participated in this study:
Ludwig, Giessen; Weidenfeld, Wiesbaden; Randow and Henkert, Berlin; Geiges, Berlin; Warnack, Hagenow; Walter, Wismar; Ru¨ ssel,
Borken; Himstedt, Schwerin; Henschel, Herzogenaurach; Ru¨ diger, Freiburg; Mahdi, Ansbach; Lux, Bamberg; Neubauer, Go¨ ttingen; Schaub,
Bocholt; Kliesch and Pu¨ hse, Mu¨ nster; Bohnenkamp, Ko¨ ln; Fehrmann-Kumpe, Greifswald; Kreutzig, Freiburg; Radlmaier and Braig, Roth;
Ko¨ ttgen, Ko¨ ln; Gleißner, Wuppertal; Hantelmann and Kemper,Berlin-Zehlendorf; Ruckdeschel, Neufahrn; Kochs, Berlin; Wiener,
Kerpen; Tack, Paderborn; Baumgraß, Kleinmachnow; Siegmann, Berlin; Herzig, Berlin; Ru¨ hlmann, Du¨ ren; Sachse, Saar; Rose, Leipzig; Schneider, Sinzig; Boness, Lu¨beck.

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