Archives of Pharmacal Research

, Volume 41, Issue 8, pp 785–796 | Cite as

Role of silibinin in the management of diabetes mellitus and its complications

  • Chun Chu
  • Dahong Li
  • Shicheng Zhang
  • Takashi Ikejima
  • Ying Jia
  • Dongkai WangEmail author
  • Fanxing XuEmail author


Diabetes mellitus is globally approaching epidemic proportions and acts as a major cause of a number of serious health problems diagnosed as diabetic complications. The current oral drugs in the treatment of diabetes and its complications could meet some but not all of the patients’ needs, and the development of novel drugs with a hypoglycemic effect is urgently required. Silibinin, a flavonolignan traditionally used for the treatment of gallbladder and hepatic diseases, was reported to improve glycemic homeostasis by improving the activity of pancreatic β-cells, increasing insulin sensitivity of liver and muscle cells, and decreasing lipid deposition in adipocytes. Researches also indicated the effectiveness of silibinin in controlling several diabetic complications including neuropathy, retinopathy, impaired healing, hepatopathy, cardiomyopathy, nephropathy, and osteoporosis. In this review, we summarize the recent anti-diabetes findings of silibinin and clarify the underlying pharmacological mechanisms, and update the knowledge in understanding the role of silibinin in control of diabetic complications.


Diabetes mellitus Diabetic complications Silibinin Hypoglycemic potential Pharmacological mechanisms 



This work was supported by China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2017M621161; 2018T110462), Doctoral Starting up Foundation of Liaoning Science and Technology Department (201601139), Foundation of Liaoning Education Committee (201610163L26), National Natural Science Foundation of China (81573580; 81503229), Key Laboratory of Polysaccharide Bioactivity Evaluation of TCM of Liaoning Province and Key Laboratory of Quality Control of TCM of Liaoning Province (17-137-1-00).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have declared no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© The Pharmaceutical Society of Korea 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PharmacyShenyang Pharmaceutical UniversityShenyangPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of Traditional Chinese Materia MedicaShenyang Pharmaceutical UniversityShenyangPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Wuya College of InnovationShenyang Pharmaceutical UniversityShenyangPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Faculty of Functional Food and WineShenyang Pharmaceutical UniversityShenyangPeople’s Republic of China
  5. 5.Jiangsu Kangyuan Pharmaceutical Co. LtdLianyungangPeople’s Republic of China

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