In this report, we further characterized the effects of silibinin (SbN), derived from milk thistle extract, and Legalon-SIL (SIL), a water-soluble derivative of SbN, on T cell metabolism and HIV infection. We assessed the effects of SbN and SIL on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and CEM-T4 cells in terms of cellular growth, ATP content, metabolism, and HIV infection. SIL and SbN caused a rapid and reversible (upon removal) decrease in cellular ATP levels, which was associated with suppression of mitochondrial respiration and glycolysis. SbN, but not SIL inhibited glucose uptake. Exposure of T cells to SIL (but not SbN or metabolic inhibitors) during virus adsorption blocked HIV infection. Thus, both SbN and SIL rapidly perturb T cell metabolism in vitro, which may account for its anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative effects that arise with prolonged exposure of cells. However, the metabolic effects are not involved in SIL's unique ability to block HIV entry.
Keywords: HIV; Metabolism; Silibinin; Silymarin; T cell.
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