Pharmacology of Silymarin

F. Fraschini, G. Demartini, D. Esposti,


Clin Drug Invest. 2002;22(1) 

In This Article

6. Conclusions

The biochemical mechanism or mechanisms of the flavonoid silymarin have not been completely established. However, the results of numerous experimental studies strongly suggest that its hepatoprotective effects are mainly due to free radical scavenging. This property is reflected by the membrane stabilisation and GSH modulation that it produces. Silymarin exerts other important effects, which include liver-specific actions:

hepatocyte membrane stabilisation and permeability regulation, stimulation of ribosomal RNA synthesis promoting liver regeneration, and the prevention of the transformation of stellate hepatocytes into myofibroblasts, which are responsible for the deposition of collagen fibres. These properties afford effective protection against the hepatotoxic effects of a number of xenobiotic compounds, including Amanita phalloides toxins, ethanol and psychotropic compounds, which has been documented in clinical trials in terms of improvement of liver function and, in the case of ethanol, increase in survival.

Pharmacokinetic and toxicity studies have not disclosed any issues that could limit the therapeutic use of silymarin.

In conclusion, silymarin is a well tolerated and effective antidote for use in cases of hepatotoxicity produced by a number of hepatotoxic agents, including Amanita phalloides, ethanol and psychotropic drugs. Numerous experimental studies suggest that it acts as a free radical scavenger with other liver-specific properties that make it a unique hepatoprotective agent.


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