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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2008 May;1780(5):837-47. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2007.12.012. Epub 2008 Jan 3.

Significantly greater antioxidant anticancer activities of 2,3-dehydrosilybin than silybin.

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Department of Internal Medicine IV, Im Neuenheimer Feld 345, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


Silybin or silymarin extract has been used to treat liver diseases, and has now been entered into clinical trials for cancer treatment. Here, we compared antioxidant and anticancer activities between silybin and its oxidized form 2,3-dehydrosilybin (DHS). With IC50 at three-fold lower concentrations than silybin, DHS inhibited reactive oxygen species generation in glucose-glucose oxidase system and HepG2 cells. Compared with silybin, DHS elicited greater protection against H2O2-induced HepG2 cell death and galactosamine-induced liver injury in vivo. It is known that oxidants induce releases of metalloproteinases (MMP)-2,-9 which are responsible for invasive and metastasis potentials of transformed cells. DHS at 10 microM markedly inhibited MMP-2,-9 releases as well as invasiveness, while silybin at 90 microM had marginal effects. DHS but not silybin at 30 microM induced apoptosis and loss of mitochondrial membrane potentials. LD50 of DHS was five-fold lower than that of silybin. Our data suggest that DHS may be more useful therapeutically than silybin.

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