Protective effect of silymarin on oxidative stress in rat brain

Phytomedicine. 2007 Feb;14(2-3):129-35. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2006.02.005. Epub 2006 Apr 25.


Brain is susceptible to oxidative stress and it is associated with age-related brain dysfunction. Previously, we have pointed out a dramatic decrease of glutathione levels in the rat brain after acetaminophen (APAP) oral administration overdose. Silymarin (SM) is a mixture of bioactive flavonolignans isolated from Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertn., employed usually in the treatment of alcoholic liver disease and as anti-hepatotoxic agent in humans. In this study, we have evaluated the effect of SM on enzymatic and non enzymatic antioxidant defensive systems in rat brain after APAP-induced damage. Male albino Wistar rats were treated with SM (200 mg/kg/die orally) for three days, or with APAP single oral administration (3 g/kg) or with SM (200 mg/kg/die orally) for 3 days and APAP single oral administration (3 g/kg) at third day. Successively the following parameters were measured: reduced and oxidized glutathione (GSH and GSSG), ascorbic acid (AA), enzymatic activity variations of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and malondialdehyde levels (MDA). Our results showed a significant decrease of GSH levels, AA levels and SOD activity and an increase of MDA and GSSG levels after APAP administration. After SM administration GSH and AA significantly increase and SOD activity was significantly enhanced. In the SM+APAP group, GSH values significantly increase and the others parameters remained unchanged respect to control values. These results suggest that SM may to protect the SNC by oxidative damage for its ability to prevent lipid peroxidation and replenishing the GSH levels.

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen
  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Brain Diseases / chemically induced
  • Brain Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Male
  • Milk Thistle*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / administration & dosage
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Silymarin / administration & dosage
  • Silymarin / pharmacology*
  • Silymarin / therapeutic use
  • Telencephalon / drug effects*
  • Telencephalon / enzymology


  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Silymarin
  • Acetaminophen