Silymarin Ameliorates Metabolic Dysfunction Associated with Diet-Induced Obesity via Activation of Farnesyl X Receptor.
Front Pharmacol. 2016 ;7:345. Epub 2016 Aug 28. PMID: 27733832
Background and purpose: Silymarin, a standardized extract of the milk thistle seeds, has been widely used to treat chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and other types of toxic liver damage. Despite increasing studies on the action of silymarin and its major active constituent, silybin in their therapeutic properties against insulin resistance, diabetes and hyperlipidaemia in vitro and in vivo, the mechanism underlying silymarin action remains unclear. Experimental approach: C57BL/6 mice were fed high-fat diet (HFD) for 3 months to induce obesity, insulin resistance, hyperlipidaemia, and fatty liver. These mice were then continuously treated with HFD alone or mixed with silymarin at 40 mg/100 g for additional 6 weeks. Biochemical analysis was used to test the serum lipid and bile acid profiles. Farnesyl X receptor (FXR) and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) transactivities were analyzed in liver using a gene reporter assay based on quantitative RT-PCR. Key results: Silymarin treatment ameliorated insulin resistance, dyslipidaemia and inflammation, and reconstituted the bile acid pool in liver of diet-induced obesity. Associated with this, silybinand silymarin enhanced FXR transactivity. Consistently, in HepG2 cells, silybin inhibited NF-κB signaling, which was enhanced by FXR activation. Conclusion and implications: Our results suggest that silybin is an effective component of silymarin for treating metabolic syndrome by stimulating FXR signaling.