Chemopreventive effects of silymarin and silibinin on N-butyl-N-(4-hydroxybutyl) nitrosamine induced urinary bladder carcinogenesis in male ICR mice

Mol Cancer Ther. 2007 Dec;6(12 Pt 1):3248-55. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-07-2006.


Effective strategies are lacking for the management of urinary bladder cancer for which smoking is a potential risk factor. Herein, we evaluated chemoprevention of urinary bladder cancer by natural chemopreventive agents, silymarin and silibinin, in a preclinical animal (ICR mouse) model of bladder cancer induced by tobacco smoke carcinogen N-butyl-N-(4-hydroxybutyl) nitrosamine (OH-BBN). Mice were fed p.o. with saline or OH-BBN (0.05%, w/v) in drinking water for 6 weeks or with silymarin or silibinin (200 mg/kg body weight for both) starting 1 week before OH-BBN exposure for 51 weeks. Silymarin and silibinin strongly arrested OH-BBN-induced tumor progression at the stage of mucosal dysplasia with a striking reduction in papillary nodular dysplasia as well as invasive carcinoma. Some silymarin- or silibinin-treated mice developed no urothelial lesions in spite of OH-BBN exposure. Immunohistochemical analyses at study conclusion revealed that silymarin and silibinin decreased cell proliferation by 42% (P < 0.001) and 44% (P < 0.001) and increased apoptosis by 4-fold (P < 0.05) and 6-fold (P < 0.05) in OH-BBN-induced urothelium, respectively. Antiproliferative and apoptotic effects of silymarin and silibinin were associated with decreases in (a) cyclin D1 protein level and extracellular signal-regulated kinase-1/2 phosphorylation and in (b) protein levels of survivin and nuclear phospho-p65 (Ser(276) and Ser(536)), respectively. Together, these results suggest that silymarin and silibinin inhibit chemically induced urinary bladder tumor growth and progression possibly by inhibiting cell proliferation and enhancing apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Butylhydroxybutylnitrosamine / toxicity*
  • Carcinogens / toxicity*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cyclin D1 / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1 / metabolism
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3 / metabolism
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Silybin
  • Silymarin / pharmacology*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / chemically induced*


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Carcinogens
  • NF-kappa B
  • Silymarin
  • Cyclin D1
  • Butylhydroxybutylnitrosamine
  • Silybin
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3