Silymarin attenuated the amyloid β plaque burden and improved behavioral abnormalities in an Alzheimer's disease mouse model

Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2010;74(11):2299-306. doi: 10.1271/bbb.100524. Epub 2010 Nov 7.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by progressive cognitive impairment and the formation of senile plaques. Silymarin, an extract of milk thistle, has long been used as a medicinal herb for liver diseases. Here we report marked suppression of amyloid β-protein (Aβ) fibril formation and neurotoxicity in PC12 cells after silymarin treatment in vitro. In vivo studies had indicated a significant reduction in brain Aβ deposition and improvement in behavioral abnormalities in amyloid precursor protein (APP) transgenic mice that had been preventively treated with a powdered diet containing 0.1% silymarin for 6 months. The silymarin-treated APP mice also showed less anxiety than the vehicle-treated APP mice. These behavioral changes were associated with a decline in Aβ oligomer production induced by silymarin intake. These results suggest that silymarin is a promising agent for the prevention of AD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Alzheimer Disease / prevention & control
  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • PC12 Cells
  • Plaque, Amyloid / complications
  • Plaque, Amyloid / drug therapy*
  • Protective Agents
  • Rats
  • Silymarin / pharmacology*
  • Silymarin / therapeutic use


  • Protective Agents
  • Silymarin