Importance of the field: Due to the failure and severe toxicity of cancer chemotherapy, silibinin, a natural flavonoid from the seeds of milk thistle, has recently received more attention for its potential anticancer and nontoxic roles in animals and humans. Silibinin has clearly demonstrated inhibition of multiple cancer cell signaling pathways, including growth inhibition, inhibition of angiogenesis, chemosensitization, and inhibition of invasion and metastasis. Cumulative evidence implicates that silibinin is a potential agent for cancer chemoprevention and chemotherapy.
Areas covered in this review: Our aim is to discuss the recent progress of silibinin in regulating multiple anticancer proliferative signaling pathways; the review covers literature mainly from the past 3 - 5 years.
What the reader will gain: One of the strategies for tumor therapy is eradication of cancer cells through targeting specific cell-proliferative pathways. This review highlights the current knowledge of silibinin in regulating multiple cellular proliferative pathways in cancer cells, including receptor tyrosine kinases, androgen receptor, STATs, NF-kappaB, cell cycle regulatory and apoptotic signaling pathways.
Take home message: The molecular mechanisms of silibinin-mediated antiproliferative effects are mainly via receptor tyrosine kinases, androgen receptor, STATs, NF-kappaB, cell cycle regulatory and apoptotic signaling pathways in various cancer cells. Targeting inhibition of proliferative pathways through silibinin treatment may provide a new approach for improving chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic effects.