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Can Silibinin Consumption Protect Against UVB-Induced Basal Cell Carcinoma?

By: Vanessa A. Carter, BS
Posted: Monday, April 29, 2024

The development of basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas is often attributed to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation exposure. Studies conducted before and after treatment with topical silibinin—a flavonolignan present in milk thistle seeds—have suggested the agent may prove to be efficacious against the development of UVB-induced skin cancers. Because there are limited data regarding whether its consumption is beneficial to preventing these cancers, Rajesh Agarwal, PhD, of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, and colleagues presented their preclinical findings during the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2024 (Abstract 7310/25).

Taken together, these results highlight the potential of dietary silibinin intake to be an effective modality against UVB-induced basal cell carcinoma formation and growth and identify molecular targets that are plausibly involved in silibinin efficacy,” concluded the study authors.

PTCH expressing/nonexpressing mice were divided into three groups. Group 1 mice were fed an adjusted vitamin diet with no exposure to UVB. Group 2 mice were exposed to UVB three to four times a week and administered a pellet control diet. Group 3 mice were fed a diet supplemented with 1% silibinin and were exposed to UVB three to four times a week. Mice were followed for 26 weeks and sacrificed at 14 and 26 weeks after UVB exposure; skin samples were analyzed for the formation of basal cell carcinoma.

Mice exposed to UVB developed basal cell carcinoma lesions at 26 weeks; however, mice fed silibinin had fewer lesions than those fed a pellet-controlled diet. Mice unexposed to UVB had no lesions. To determine whether silibinin is effective before 26 weeks, skin RNA samples from the 14-week timepoint were analyzed.

The investigators identified approximately 16,000 unique genes, of which approximately 65% were protein-coding. At the transcriptome level, the UVB cluster was sequestered from the other groups, suggesting silibinin consumption may have been effective in alleviating the effects of UVB exposure. Lipid metabolism was found to be the most dysregulated functional network.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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