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Health Benefits of Silybum marianum: Phytochemistry, Pharmacology, and Applications

  • Xin Wang
    Xin Wang
    College of Veterinary Medicine, Qingdao Agricultural University, No. 700 Changcheng Road, Qingdao, Shandong 266109, People’s Republic of China
    More by Xin Wang
  • Zhen Zhang
    Zhen Zhang
    College of Veterinary Medicine, Qingdao Agricultural University, No. 700 Changcheng Road, Qingdao, Shandong 266109, People’s Republic of China
    More by Zhen Zhang
  • , and 
  • Shuai-Cheng Wu*
    Shuai-Cheng Wu
    College of Veterinary Medicine, Qingdao Agricultural University, No. 700 Changcheng Road, Qingdao, Shandong 266109, People’s Republic of China
    Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Food Nutrition and Human Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, China Agricultural University, No. 2 Yuanmingyuan West Road, Beijing 100193, People’s Republic of China
    *Email for S.-C.W.: [email protected]
Cite this: J. Agric. Food Chem. 2020, 68, 42, 11644–11664
Publication Date (Web):October 12, 2020
https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jafc.0c04791
Copyright © 2020 American Chemical Society

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    Abstract

    Abstract Image

    Silybum marianum (SM), a well-known plant used as both a medicine and a food, has been widely used to treat various diseases, especially hepatic diseases. The seeds and fruits of SM contain a flavonolignan complex called silymarin, the active compounds of which include silybin, isosilybin, silychristin, dihydrosilybin, silydianin, and so on. In this review, we thoroughly summarize high-quality publications related to the pharmacological effects and underlying mechanisms of SM. SM has antimicrobial, anticancer, hepatoprotective, cardiovascular-protective, neuroprotective, skin-protective, antidiabetic, and other effects. Importantly, SM also counteracts the toxicities of antibiotics, metals, and pesticides. The diverse pharmacological activities of SM provide scientific evidence supporting its use in both humans and animals. Multiple signaling pathways associated with oxidative stress and inflammation are the common molecular targets of SM. Moreover, the flavonolignans of SM are potential agonists of PPARγ and ABCA1, PTP1B inhibitors, and metal chelators. At the end of the review, the potential and perspectives of SM are discussed, and these insights are expected to facilitate the application of SM and the discovery and development of new drugs. We conclude that SM is an interesting dietary medicine for health enhancement and drug discovery and warrants further investigation.

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