Milk thistle extract showed anti-inflammatory abilities in lab test on horse blood

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Silibinin may ultimately prove useful for treating several inflammatory conditions in horses, but further research is needed.
Silibinin may ultimately prove useful for treating several inflammatory conditions in horses, but further research is needed. Image by anncapictures

A compound extracted from milk thistle showed useful anti-inflammatory properties when tested on cells taken from horse blood, researchers report.

Italian researcher Enrico Gugliandolo and his colleagues, writing in the open-access journal Animals, noted that natural compounds are often an important source of biologically active molecules, which can find important applications in the treatment or prevention of disease.

Silibinin is a natural polyphenolic flavonoid extracted from the plant milk thistle, Silybum marianum.

Silibinin has been reported to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and support the immune system.

For their study, blood samples were taken from 10 clinically healthy jumping horses.

Equine peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), which have a key role in the body’s immune response, were isolated and an inflammatory response was induced using an endotoxin. The cells were exposed to two different concentrations of silibinin.

The study team found that the silibinin had a protective effect on the PBMCs. It was, they said, able to prevent the increase in levels of inflammatory-related proteins triggered by endotoxin exposure.

The authors said silibinin may prove to be useful in the treatment or prevention of several inflammatory conditions in horses, although they stress that further research is required to confirm any therapeutic role.

The results, they said, also provide evidence that equine PBMCs are a potential laboratory model to study inflammatory and immune response, and for drug screening, in the target species.

The study team comprised Gugliandolo, Salvatore Cuzzocrea, Rosalia Crupi, Vito Biondi, Patrizia Licata and Annamaria Passantino, all affiliated with the University of Messina in Italy.

Gugliandolo, E.; Crupi, R.; Biondi, V.; Licata, P.; Cuzzocrea, S.; Passantino, A. Protective Effect of Silibinin on Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Inflammatory Responses in Equine Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells, an In Vitro Study. Animals 2020, 10, 2022.

The study, published under a Creative Commons License,  can be read here

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