Silymarin was assessed for drug-drug interaction by permeability studies with Caco-2 cells, for cytochrome P450 induction with human primary hepatocytes and for cytochrome P450 inhibition with human liver microsomes. Studies with Caco-2 cells revealed no interference of silymarin with the permeability of nifedipine. Silymarin did not induce cytochromes P450 2C9 and 3A4 at concentrations of 0.1; 1; and 100 microM, measured as silibinin. The inhibitory effect was tested on the nine major cytochromes P450 1A2, 2A6, 2B6, 2C8, 2C9, 2C19, 2D6, 2E1, and 3A4 at concentrations of 1 and 100 microM silymarin. At 1 microM concentration no or negligible inhibition of cytochromes P450 1A2, 2A6, 2B6, 2C8, 2C9, and 2E1, minor inhibition of 3A4 (<20%), and moderate inhibition of 2C19 and 2D6 (<40%) were observed. Inhibition constant Ki of silymarin was determined for cytochromes P450 3A4 with 12 microM, 2C19 with 2 microM, and 2D6 with 12 microM. Only at the high concentration of 100 microM silymarin, inhibition at >50% of the cytochromes P450 2B6, 2C8, 2C9, 2C19, 2D6, and 3A4 was observed, and no or moderate inhibition was for the cytochromes P450 1A2, 2A6, and 2E1. However, in view of the clinically relevant plasma concentration of approx. 0.2 microM measured as silibinin, it is evident that there is no drug-drug interaction problem with silymarin.