Purified silymarin-derived natural products from the milk thistle plant (Silybum marianum) block hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and inhibit T cell proliferation in vitro. An intravenous formulation of silibinin (SIL), a major component of silymarin, displays anti-HCV effects in humans and also inhibits T-cell proliferation in vitro. We show that SIL inhibited replication of HIV-1 in TZM-bl cells, PBMCs, and CEM cells in vitro. SIL suppression of HIV-1 coincided with dose-dependent reductions in actively proliferating CD19+, CD4+, and CD8+ cells, resulting in fewer CD4+ T cells expressing the HIV-1 co-receptors CXCR4 and CCR5. SIL inhibition of T-cell growth was not due to cytotoxicity measured by cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, or necrosis. SIL also blocked induction of the activation markers CD38, HLA-DR, Ki67, and CCR5 on CD4+ T cells. The data suggest that SIL attenuated cellular functions involved in T-cell activation, proliferation, and HIV-1 infection. Silymarin-derived compounds provide cytoprotection by suppressing virus infection, immune activation, and inflammation, and as such may be relevant for both HIV mono-infected and HIV/HCV co-infected subjects.
McClure J, Lovelace ES, Elahi S, Maurice NJ, Wagoner J, Dragavon J, Mittler JE, Kraft Z, Stamatatos L, Horton H, De Rosa SC, Coombs RW, Polyak SJ Silibinin inhibits HIV-1 infection by reducing cellular activation and proliferation. PLoS One. 2012 March Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States of America.