Background and objective: Previous studies have demonstrated the anti-cancer effects of silymarin (SLM). However, the low bioavailability of SLM has restricted its use. This study investigated the toxic effect of nanostructured SLM encapsulated in micelles (Nano-SLM) on the growth of the HT-29 human colon cancer cell line. Materials and methods: HT-29 cells were treated with 25 μM/mL of SLM or Nano-SLM for 48 h. MTT and colony formation assays were used to assess the cytotoxicity and proliferation of HT-29 cells, respectively. The cells were stained with annexin V/PI for assessment of apoptosis. Results: MTT assays revealed that Nano-SLM treatment was able to exert a more pronounced toxic effect on the HT-29 cells as compared to free SLM treatment (p < 0.01). In the Nano-SLM-treated cells, colony numbers were significantly reduced in comparison to the free SLM-treated cells (p < 0.01). Apoptotic and necrotic indexes of Nano-SLM-treated HT-29 cells were also significantly increased in comparison to those of the free SLM-treated cells (p < 0.01). The viability, proliferation and apoptosis of healthy cells (NIH-3T3 cells) were not changed in response to Nano-SLM or SLM. Conclusions: Our results indicate that Nano-SLM enhances the anti-cancer effects of SLM against human colon cancer cells.
Keywords: colon cancer; micelle; nanodrug; silymarin.