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Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertn: the Source of Silymarin

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Abstract

The milk thistle Silybum marianum(L.) Gaernt, a member of the Asteraceae family, is an herb whose fruits have been used medicinally for over 2000 years. Their properties are due to the presence of silymarin, an isomeric mixture of the flavonolignans silydianin, silychristin, present in two diastereoisomeric forms, A and B, silybin and isosilybin, which also exist as two diastereoisomers: silybin A and B, and isosilybin A and B. The biosynthesis of these compounds is carried out by oxidative coupling catalysed by peroxidase enzymes between the flavonoid taxifolin and the phenylpropanoid coniferyl alcohol. The silymarin content in fruits depends on the milk thistle variety and geographic and climatic conditions in which they grow; however, the relative proportions of individual components is a genetic characteristic associated with specific chemoraces. Extracts of the fruits have traditionally been employed for treating liver disorders. Studies performed in vitro and in vivo have demonstrated the antioxidant activity of silymarin and its ability to stimulate protein synthesis and cell regeneration; thus, silymarin is being used for the treatment of toxic liver damage and for therapy of chronic inflammatory liver diseases and liver cirrhosis.Silymarin also inhibits chemically induced carcinogenesis and shows direct anticarcinogenic activity against several human carcinoma cells; in addition, silymarin shows antidiabetic, hipolipidaemic, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, neurotrophic and neuroprotective effects. Further studies with pure components of silymarin will extend its applications. Tissue cultures have been derived from several organs of this species. Silymarin accumulation in cell cultures is lower than in the fruit and can be stimulated by elicitation with yeast extract and/or methyl jasmonate. An extensive metabolic reprogramming occurred upon elicitation: phenylpropanoid, carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism was altered and probably redirected to support the biosynthesis of flavonolignans. Yeast extract promotes the accumulation of choline and α-linolenic acid in cells, suggesting an action on membranes and the involvement of the octadecanoid pathway in the induction of silymarin in S. marianum cultures.

Keywords

  • Methyl Jasmonate
  • Okadaic Acid
  • Ethylene Glycol Tetraacetic Acid
  • Ethylene Glycol Tetraacetic Acid
  • Ethylene Glycol Tetraacetic Acid

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Corchete, P. (2008). Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertn: the Source of Silymarin. In: Ramawat, K., Merillon, J. (eds) Bioactive Molecules and Medicinal Plants. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-74603-4_6

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