Advances in pharmacological studies of silymarin.


Rue YC.




Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz


Silymarin is the flavonoids extracted from the seeds of Silybum marianum (L) Gearth as a mixture of three structural isomers: silybin, silydianin and silychristin, the former being the most active component. Silymarin protects liver cell membrane against hepatotoxic agents and improves liver function in experimental animals and humans. It is generally accepted that silymarin exerts a membrane-stabilizing action preventing or inhibiting membrane peroxidation. The experiments with soybean lipoxygenase showed that the three components of silymarin brought about a concentration-dependent non-competitive inhibition of the lipoxygenase. The experiments also showed an analogous interaction with animal lipoxygenase, thus showing that an inhibition of the peroxidation of the fatty acid in vivo was self-evident. Silybin almost completely suppressed the formation of PG at the highest concentration (0.3 mM) and proved to be an inhibitor of PG synthesis in vitro. In our experiments, silybin at lower dose (65 mg/kg) decreased liver lipoperoxide content and microsomal lipoperoxidation to 84.6% and 68.55% of those of the scalded control rats respectively, and prevented the decrease of liver microsomal cytochrome p-450 content and p-nitroanisole-O-demethylase activity 24 h post-scalding. Effects of silymarin on cardiovascular system have been studied in this university since 1980. P. O silymarin 800 mg/kg/d or silybin 600 mg/kg/d reduced plasma total cholesterol, LDL-C and VLDL-C. They however, enhanced HDL-C in hyperlipemic rats. Further studies showed that silymarin enhanced HDL-C but didn't affect HDL-C, a property of this component which is beneficial to treatment of atherosclerosis.