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AACR 2022: Potential of Silibinin in Prevention and/or Treatment of Basal Cell Carcinoma

By: Joseph Fanelli
Posted: Wednesday, April 13, 2022

According to findings presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2022 (Abstract 716/11), using silibinin, a natural flavonolignan found in milk thistle seeds, may have a role in the prevention and/or treatment of basal cell carcinoma. Applying silibinin topically on mice resulted in a reduction of the disease and a decreased proliferation of basal cells, according to Rajesh Agarwal, PhD, of the University of Colorado, Aurora, and colleagues.

In this trial, the authors analyzed the activity of silibinin on the progression of ultraviolet B (UVB)-induced microscopic basal cell carcinoma lesions after irradiating mice with 240 mJ/cm2 of UVB rays three times per week for 26 weeks. After initial exposure, the mice were grouped into a baseline cohort (euthanized for baseline data), a vehicle group that was treated topically with acetone, and a silibinin cohort that was treated topically with the flavonolignan.

The authors found that, compared with basal cell carcinoma–associated pathologies observed at baseline, acetone exposure resulted in a significant increase in the number of basal cell carcinoma lesions and the area of the mice covered. In addition, there was an increase in epidermal dysplasia, fibrosarcoma, and squamous cell carcinoma incidences. The topical application of silibinin significantly decreased basal cell carcinoma lesion numbers and area by about 76% and 88%, respectively.

Further RNA-sequencing studies taken from skin samples of all three mice groups, as well as non–UVB-exposed mice, revealed that topical application of silibinin was able to protect against the progression of advanced basal cell carcinoma but also had the potential to normalize the aberrant gene expression driving basal cell carcinoma formation. Gene ontology enrichment analysis and pathway enrichment analysis of differentially expressed genes also demonstrated silibinin-associated enrichment in the calcium and CX3CR1-mediated signaling pathways and TGF-β-mediated regulation of the extracellular matrix, the authors said.

Disclosure: For a full disclosure of the study authors, visit

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