Oral silibinin inhibits in vivo human bladder tumor xenograft growth involving down-regulation of survivin

Clin Cancer Res. 2008 Jan 1;14(1):300-8. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-07-1565.


Purpose: Chemoprevention is an upcoming approach to control bladder cancer, which is one of the commonly diagnosed malignancies showing recurrence rate of 70% or even higher. Recently, we observed the in vitro efficacy of silibinin, a flavanolignan, in human bladder transitional cell papilloma RT4 cells. Here, we investigated the antitumor efficacy and associated mechanisms of silibinin in RT4 tumor xenograft.

Experimental design: RT4 tumor xenograft was implanted s.c. in athymic nude mice, and then animals were oral gavaged with silibinin at 100 and 200 mg/kg doses, 5 days/week for 12 weeks. Tumor growth, body weight, and diet consumption were recorded, and tumors were analyzed for proliferation, apoptosis, and angiogenesis biomarkers and molecular alterations by immunohistochemistry, immunoblot analysis, and ELISA. p53 small interfering RNA was used in cell culture to examine the role of p53 in survivin expression.

Results: Silibinin feeding inhibited tumor xenograft growth without any gross signs of toxicity. Silibinin decreased tumor volume by 51% to 58% (P <or= 0.01) and tumor weight by 44% to 49% (P < 0.05). Silibinin moderately (P < 0.001) decreased cell proliferation and microvessel density and strongly (P < 0.001) increased apoptosis in tumors. Silibinin robustly decreased survivin protein expression and its nuclear localization, as well as tumor-secreted level in mouse plasma, but increased p53 and cleaved caspase-3 levels in tumors. Silibinin-caused decrease in survivin was independent of p53.

Conclusion: These findings identified in vivo antitumor efficacy of silibinin against human bladder tumor cells involving down-regulation of survivin and an increase in p53 expression together with enhanced apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Blotting, Western
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / pathology
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Down-Regulation
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / drug effects*
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / drug therapy
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Silybin
  • Silymarin / administration & dosage
  • Survivin
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / drug effects
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / pathology
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Birc5 protein, mouse
  • Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Silymarin
  • Survivin
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Silybin