Silibinin attenuates adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 preadipocytes through a potential upregulation of the insig pathway

Int J Mol Med. 2009 May;23(5):633-7. doi: 10.3892/ijmm_00000174.


In the past few decades, the use of silibinin, a plant flavonoid extracted from the milk thistle, as a hepatoprotective and chemopreventive agent has gained much attention. In this study, we investigated the effects of silibinin on adipogenesis. Treatment with silibinin suppressed terminal differentiation of 3T3-L1 cells into adipocytes as evidenced by Oil red O staining and TG assay results. Real-time RT-PCR analysis revealed that silibinin decreased the expression of adipogenesis-related genes such as CAAT/enhancer binding protein-alpha, fatty acid synthase, sterol response element binding protein 1c, adipocyte-specific lipid binding protein, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma and lipoprotein lipase, and increased the expression of preadipocyte factor-1, a preadipocyte marker gene. The anti-adipogenic effect of silibinin was associated with the up-regulation of insig-1 and insig-2. Collectively, these results suggest that silibinin inhibits adipocyte differentiation through a potential up-regulation of insig-1 and insig-2 at an early phase in adipocyte differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3-L1 Cells
  • Adipocytes / drug effects*
  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adipocytes / physiology
  • Adipogenesis / drug effects*
  • Adipogenesis / genetics
  • Animals
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Silybin
  • Silymarin / pharmacology
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects


  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Insig1 protein, mouse
  • Insig2 protein, mouse
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Silymarin
  • Silybin