Silymarin is a complex of plant-derived compounds obtained from the seed shells of the milk thistle (Silybum marianum). It is used in medicine primarily to protect the liver. The mixture contains mainly flavonolignans, with silybin as a paramount bioactive component of the extract. This article presents the potential health benefits for silymarin as an antifungal drug against five references strains: C. albicans, C. glabrata, C. parapsilosis, C. tropicalis, and C. krusei with MIC (minimum inhibitory concentration) values ranging from 30 to 300 µg/mL. Additionally, this study revealed that the compound suppressed the growth of cells of most of the tested clinical Candida albicans strains with MIC values between 30 and 1200 µg/mL. Based on the fractional inhibitory concentration index (FICI), the combination of silymarin with antifungal drugs caspofungin, fluconazole, and amphotericin B did not significantly change the MIC values for the tested Candida strains. Furthermore, no antagonistic reactions were observed in any combination of drugs. In addition, this substance shows anti-virulence properties including the destabilization of mature biofilm and the inhibition of the secretion of hydrolases. qRT-PCR-based experiments demonstrated that the SAP4 gene involved in virulence was downregulated by silymarin. These results indicate completely new advantages of dietary supplementation with this natural plant extract.
Keywords: Candida; Silybum marianum; antifungal activity; diet supplementation; silymarin.