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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2009 Oct;331(1):319-26. doi: 10.1124/jpet.109.155069. Epub 2009 Jul 28.

Silibinin attenuates amyloid beta(25-35) peptide-induced memory impairments: implication of inducible nitric-oxide synthase and tumor necrosis factor-alpha in mice.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Pharmacology, Meijo University, Nagoya, Japan.


In Alzheimer's disease (AD), the deposition of amyloid peptides is invariably associated with oxidative stress and inflammatory responses. Silibinin (silybin), a flavonoid derived from the herb milk thistle, has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities. However, it remains unclear whether silibinin improves amyloid beta (Abeta) peptide-induced neurotoxicity. In this study, we examined the effect of silibinin on the fear-conditioning memory deficits, inflammatory response, and oxidative stress induced by the intracerebroventricular injection of Abeta peptide(25-35) (Abeta(25-35)) in mice. Mice were treated with silibinin (2, 20, and 200 mg/kg p.o., once a day for 8 days) from the day of the Abeta(25-35) injection (day 0). Memory function was evaluated in cued and contextual fear-conditioning tests (day 6). Nitrotyrosine levels in the hippocampus and amygdala were examined (day 8). The mRNA expression of inducible nitric-oxide synthase (iNOS) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) in the hippocampus and amygdala was measured 2 h after the Abeta(25-35) injection. We found that silibinin significantly attenuated memory deficits caused by Abeta(25-35) in the cued and contextual fear-conditioning test. Silibinin significantly inhibited the increase in nitrotyrosine levels in the hippocampus and amygdala induced by Abeta(25-35). Nitrotyrosine levels in these regions were negatively correlated with memory performance. Moreover, real-time RT-PCR revealed that silibinin inhibited the overexpression of iNOS and TNF-alpha mRNA in the hippocampus and amygdala induced by Abeta(25-35). These findings suggest that silibinin (i) attenuates memory impairment through amelioration of oxidative stress and inflammatory response induced by Abeta(25-35) and (ii) may be a potential candidate for an AD medication.

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