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Silymarin, a Flavonoid from Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum L.), Inhibits UV-induced Oxidative Stress Through Targeting Infiltrating CD11b+ Cells in Mouse Skin


  • This paper is part of a special issue dedicated to Professor Hasan Mukhtar on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

*Corresponding author email: (Santosh K. Katiyar)


Phytochemicals have shown promise in inhibiting UV-induced oxidative stress, and therefore are considered as potent inhibitors of UV-induced oxidative stress-mediated skin diseases. We have shown previously that topical treatment of silymarin, a flavonoid from milk thistle (Silybum marianum), inhibits UV-induced oxidative stress in mouse skin. However, the cellular targets responsible for the inhibition of UV-induced oxidative stress by silymarin are not clearly defined. To address this issue, C3H/HeN mice were UV irradiated (90 mJ cm−2) with or without topical treatment with silymarin (1 mg cm−2 skin area). Mice were killed 48 h later and skin samples collected. Flow cytometric analysis of viable dermal cells revealed that the number of infiltrating CD11b+ cells were the major source of oxidative stress (31.8%) in UV-irradiated skin compared with non–UV-exposed skin (0.4%). Treatment of silymarin inhibited UV-induced oxidative stress through inhibition of infiltrating CD11b+ cells. The analysis of myeloperoxidase also indicated that silymarin significantly (P < 0.001) decreased UV-induced infiltration of leukocytes, and this effect of silymarin was similar to that of intraperitoneal treatment of mice with monoclonal antibodies to CD11b. The inhibitory effect of silymarin, regardless of whether it is topically treated before or after UV irradiation, was of similar magnitude. Intraperitoneal administration of monoclonal antibodies to CD11b (rat IgG2b) to C3H/HeN mice inhibited UVB-induced oxidative stress generated by both epidermal and dermal cells as is evident by relative fluorescence intensity of oxidized rhodamine. Similar to the effect of anti-CD11b, silymarin also inhibited UV-induced oxidative stress in both epidermal and dermal cells. Further, CD11b+ and CD11b− cell subsets from UV-treated or silymarin+UV-treated mice were separated by immunomagnetic cell isolation technique from total epidermal and dermal single cell suspensions and analyzed for reactive oxygen species (ROS)/H2O2 production. Analytic data revealed that CD11b+ cell population from UV-irradiated skin resulted in significantly higher production of ROS in both epidermis and dermis than CD11b− cell population, and that silymarin inhibited UV-induced oxidative stress through targeting infiltrating the CD11b+ cell type in the skin.