Silymarin suppresses basal and stimulus-induced activation, exhaustion, differentiation, and inflammatory markers in primary human immune cells.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


PloS one, Volume 12, Issue 2, p.e0171139 (2017)


Silymarin (SM), and its flavonolignan components, alter cellular metabolism and inhibit inflammatory status in human liver and T cell lines. In this study, we hypothesized that SM suppresses both acute and chronic immune activation (CIA), including in the context of HIV infection. SM treatment suppressed the expression of T cell activation and exhaustion markers on CD4+ and CD8+ T cells from chronically-infected, HIV-positive subjects. SM also showed a trend towards modifying CD4+ T cell memory subsets from HIV+ subjects. In the HIV-negative setting, SM treatment showed trends towards suppressing pro-inflammatory cytokines from non-activated and pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP)-activated primary human monocytes, and non-activated and cytokine- and T cell receptor (TCR)-activated mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells. The data suggest that SM elicits broad anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory activity in primary human immune cells. By using novel compounds to alter cellular inflammatory status, it may be possible to regulate inflammation in both non-disease and disease states.