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Planta Med. 2012 May;78(8):761-6. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1298374. Epub 2012 Mar 12.

Effect of silymarin and harpagoside on inflammation reaction of BEAS-2B cells, on ciliary beat frequency (CBF) of trachea explants and on mucociliary clearance (MCC).

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Institute of Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry-Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Münster, Münster, Germany.


Silymarin and harpagoside are derived from drugs which are used for their protective effects against hepatotoxicity and inflammatory processes. Both are now investigated with respect to the respiratory tract. They were able to reduce the release of the inflammatory cytokine RANTES (regulated on activation, normal T cells expressed and secreted) from BEAS-2B cells in a concentration-dependent manner when stimulated by a cytokine mix (10 ng/mL of TNF- α and IFN- γ). This effect was not due to a possible toxic effect (control experiments using LDH release as a marker). Silymarin but not harpagoside was able to increase ciliary beat frequency. Effects were comparable to positive controls (isoprenaline and salbutamol). Silymarin also increases mucociliary clearance. In conclusion, silymarin should be further investigated for its clinical use in distinct respiratory diseases.

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