Pilot study of oral silibinin, a putative chemopreventive agent, in colorectal cancer patients: silibinin levels in plasma, colorectum, and liver and their pharmacodynamic consequences.
Clin Cancer Res. 2006 May 1;12(9):2944-50. PMID: 16675592
Silibinin, a flavonolignan from milk thistle, has intestinal cancer chemopreventive efficacy in rodents. It is a strong antioxidant and modulates the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system by increasing circulating levels of IGF-binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3) and decreasing levels of IGF-I. Here, the hypothesis was tested that administration of oral silibinin generates agent levels in human blood and colorectal and hepatic tissues consistent with pharmacologic activity. Patients with confirmed colorectal adenocarcinoma received silibinin formulated with phosphatidylcholine (silipide) at dosages of 360, 720, or 1,440 mg silibinin daily for 7 days. Blood and biopsy samples of normal and malignant colorectum or liver were obtained before dosing, and blood and colorectal or hepatic tissues were collected at resection surgery after the final silipide dose. Levels of silibinin were quantified by high-pressure liquid chromatography-UV, and plasma metabolites were identified by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Blood levels of IGFBP-3, IGF-I, and the oxidative DNA damage pyrimidopurinone adduct of deoxyguanosine (M1dG) were determined. Repeated administration of silipide was safe and achieved levels of silibinin of 0.3 to 4 micromol/L in the plasma, 0.3 to 2.5 nmol/g tissue in the liver, and 20 to 141 nmol/g tissue in colorectal tissue. Silibinin monoglucuronide, silibinin diglucuronide, silibinin monosulfate, and silibinin glucuronide sulfate were identified in the plasma. Intervention with silipide did not affect circulating levels of IGFBP-3, IGF-I, or M1dG. The high silibinin levels achieved in the human colorectal mucosa after consumption of safe silibinin doses support its further exploration as a potential human colorectal cancer chemopreventive agent.