Immunomodulatory effects of silymarin after subacute exposure to mice: A tiered approach immunotoxicity screening

  • Karimi, Gholamreza (Pharmaceutical Research Center, Institute of Pharmaceutical Technology, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences) ;
  • Hassanzadeh-Josan, Samed (Department of Pharmacodynamics and Toxicology, School of Pharmacy, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences) ;
  • Memar, Bahram (Cancer Research Center, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences) ;
  • Esmaeili, Seyed-Alireza (Immunology Research Center, BuAli Research Institute, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences) ;
  • Riahi-Zanjani, Bamdad (Medical Toxicology Research Center, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences)
  • Received : 2017.12.23
  • Accepted : 2018.05.06
  • Published : 2018.06.30


Silymarin is a flavonoid complex extracted from the Silybum marianum plant with a wide range of pharmacological and biochemical effects. In the present study, the immunomodulatory effects of silymarin were investigated in BALB/c mice. Silymarin was administered daily by intraperitoneal injection at doses of 50, 100 and 150 mg/kg for 14 consecutive days. Following the exposure, host hematological parameters, spleen cellularity and histopathological examination, as well as delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses, hemagglutination titers (HA), splenocyte cytokine production and lymphocyte proliferation assay were studied in all of the test groups of animals. The results showed that the low dose of silymarin (50 mg/kg) could stimulate both cellular and humoral immune functions in the treated hosts. In addition, silymarin at 100 mg/kg appeared to impact on DTH responses and lymphoproliferation. Based on the finding here, it would seem that silymarin has efficient immunostimulant properties. As a recommendation, the application of silymarin along with acupuncture technique (herbal acupuncture) can be thought as a good plan to modulate and enhance the immune system for the management of several immunodeficiency disorders. However, further studies are required to demonstrate this hypothesis.


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