Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by progressive cognitive impairment and the formation of senile plaques. Silymarin, an extract of milk thistle, has long been used as a medicinal herb for liver diseases. Here we report marked suppression of amyloid β-protein (Aβ) fibril formation and neurotoxicity in PC12 cells after silymarin treatment in vitro. In vivo studies had indicated a significant reduction in brain Aβ deposition and improvement in behavioral abnormalities in amyloid precursor protein (APP) transgenic mice that had been preventively treated with a powdered diet containing 0.1% silymarin for 6 months. The silymarin-treated APP mice also showed less anxiety than the vehicle-treated APP mice. These behavioral changes were associated with a decline in Aβ oligomer production induced by silymarin intake. These results suggest that silymarin is a promising agent for the prevention of AD.
2010 by Japan Society for Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Agrochemistry