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Gastroenterology. 1995 Dec;109(6):1941-9.

Antioxidant activity of silybin in vivo during long-term iron overload in rats.

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Dipartimento di Medicina Interna, University of Modena, Italy.



Hepatic iron toxicity may be mediated by free radical species and lipid peroxidation of biological membranes. The antioxidant property of silybin, a main constituent of natural flavonoids, was investigated in vivo during experimental iron overload.


Rats were fed a 2.5% carbonyl-iron diet and 100 body silybin for 4 months and were assayed for accumulation of hepatic lipid peroxidation by-products by immunocytochemistry, mitochondrial energy-dependent functions, and mitochondrial malondialdehyde content.


Iron overload caused a dramatic accumulation of malondialdehyde-protein adducts into iron-filled periportal hepatocytes that was decreased appreciably by silybin treatment. The same beneficial effect of silybin was found on the iron-induced accumulation of malondialdehyde in mitochondria. As to the liver functional efficiency, mitochondrial energy wasting and tissue adenosine triphosphate depletion induced by iron overload were successfully counteracted by silybin.


Oral administration of silybin protects against iron-induced hepatic toxicity in vivo. This effect seems to be caused by the prominent antioxidant activity of this compound.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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