Silibinin attenuates adipose tissue inflammation and reverses obesity and its complications in diet-induced obesity model in mice

BMC Pharmacol Toxicol. 2020 Jan 23;21(1):8. doi: 10.1186/s40360-020-0385-8.


Background: Obesity is a multifactorial chronic disease that comprises several pathological events, such as adipose hypertrophy, fatty liver and insulin resistance. Inflammation is a key contributer to development of these events, and therefore, targeting inflammation is increasingly considered for management of obesity and its complications. The aim of the current study was to investigate therapeutic outcomes of anti-inflammatory activities of the natural compound Silibinin in reversing obesity and its complication in mice.

Methods: C57BL/6 male mice were fed high-fat diet for 8 weeks until development of obesity, and then injected with 50 mg/kg silibinin intraperitoneally twice per week, or vehicle for 8 weeks. Throughout the experiment, mice were continuously checked for body weight and food intake, and glucose tolerance test was performed toward the end of the experiment. Animals were sacrificed and serum and tissues were collected for biochemical, histological, and gene expression analysis to assess silibinin effects on adipose inflammation, fat accumulation, liver adipogenesis and glucose homeostasis.

Results: Silibinin treatment reversed adipose tissue inflammation and adipocyte hypertrophy, and blocked progression in weight gain and obesity development with no significant effects on rates of food intake. Silibinin also reversed fatty liver disease and restored glucose homeostasis in treated animals, and reversed hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia and hypertriglyceridemia.

Conclusion: In this study, we demonstrated that silibinin as an anti-inflammatory therapy is a potential alternative to manage obesity, as well as its related complications. Moreover, silibinin-based therapies could further evolve as a novel treatment to manage various inflammation-driven disorders.

Keywords: Anti-inflammatory therapy; Fatty liver disease; Glucose homeostasis; Insulin resistance; Obesity; Silibinin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / drug effects
  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adipocytes / pathology
  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Diet, High-Fat
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Hypertrophy
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Silybin / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Silybin
  • Glucose